Understanding how to talk honestly and openly about suicide is a learnable skill. In this virtual presentation, panelists break down commonly used mental health terms and methods to identify and prevent teen suicide. As Oklahoma’s teenagers return to school after the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for parents, caretakers, and educators to recognize and support their mental health needs. Participants will see a collection of videos from the national Well Beings tour, hear from Oklahoma teenagers, and be a part of a frank discussion about terms, warning signs, resources, and tips on how to discuss suicide in an open and healthy way. Presented by Well Beings, OETA, and National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oklahoma (NAMI).
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About the Host
Ebony Skillens, LPC for Amayesing Skillz
Ebony Skillens, LPC was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. Ebony is married and has three children and two grandchildren. Ebony has worked in the field of mental health for the past 10 years. She specializes in child and family therapy and enjoys the process of seeing God’s word transform hearts and change behavior. She is the CEO and founder of Amayesing Skillz Counseling Services, a state certified mental health agency that applies the word of God to give a Biblical perspective on coping with psychological health concerns. In addition, she operates Ebony Dawn Consulting Services, designed to assist, and train therapists to reach their full potential in private practice.
About the Panelists
Julie Geddes, Senior Field Representative for Oklahoma Department of Mental and Substance Abuse
Julie Geddes is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma and has been in suicide prevention for 23 years on the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant and other state initiatives. Julie is a Master Trainer for many suicide prevention programs. She recently collaborated with Hazelden Publishing and Maureen Underwood to create new content for Lifeline’s Suicide Prevention School Curricula’s newest edition. Julie provides postvention support after a suicide to communities, assists in creation of policies and procedures to ensure people have a path to help. Julie was awarded the prestigious Commissioner’s Award of Excellence for demonstration of exceptional performance or action that enhances the mission and values of the ODMHSAS.
Kirk Smalley, President, Co-founder and Presenter for Stand For The Silent
Kirk and Laura Smalley lost their 11 year old son Richard Ty Field on May 13th 2010 to suicide due to constant bullying. Since then they have been speaking out against bullying to over 1,100 schools and community organizations reaching over 1,250,000 youths and adults, as well as meeting with president Obama and the first lady. They have been invited to speak in 42 states and 16 countries to date. Our mantra is a simple statement born from a commitment to a child lost – to stop bullying in our world today. With unequaled dedication and commitment, they have tirelessly labored to inspire a world where our children can be safe and where no other parent feels the agony of a child lost to the effects of bullying.
Paula Stafford, M.Ed. Director of Affiliate Relations for NAMI Oklahoma
Paula has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling as well as Administration. She has worked in the educational field for 30 years. She currently works for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oklahoma completing her seventh year. She has served as the Children’s Behavioral Health Network contact, Programs Coordinator for Youth and Families, and is now in the role of Director of Affiliate Relations. She has done numerous presentations across the state to educate communities about mental health. Paula has a passion to help families understand how to support their loved one with a mental health condition. Paula is married with 2 young adult children and one grandchild. She enjoys reading, traveling and watching Thunder basketball.
Garrin Williams, Junior, Oklahoma State University
Garrin Williams is a junior attending Oklahoma State University. Her personal battle with mental illness, suicide, and healing motivates her to pursue graduate school for Marriage and Family Therapy. As well as, co-founding an Active Minds Chapter on OSU’s campus. Active Minds is a national nonprofit based out of Washington D.C. with a mission to spread mental health awareness and education for young adults. She has been included on the President’s Honor Roll each semester, was named a Top 20 Freshmen Woman, a Women for OSU Scholar, and takes the time to mentor first-year students within the College of Education and Human Sciences. By experiencing her own fight with suicide, Garrin recognizes the importance of talking honestly and openly about mental health, especially with teens.