SSW News

Michigan Death Underscores Importance of SSW Work

May 16, 2017    |  

Several news outlets have announced that Michigan Representative, John Kivela, died by apparent suicide on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

Leaders of the statewide mental health awareness campaign offer condolences to the Kivela family and his community during this difficult time. We recognize what a devastating loss this is to the City of Marquette in which Kivela served, and to the state of Michigan. As we work through our grief, Healthy Men Michigan wants to extend support to anyone throughout the state who might be struggling in the wake of this loss.

For individuals who worked with Rep. Kivela, we want share a resource titled, “A Manager’s Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace” []. This free, online guide outlines action steps for dealing with the aftermath of a suicide, including resources for workplaces, and support for coworkers and the surrounding community.

Another helpful resource for business leaders and consultants is the ACT Model, developed by the Crisis Care Network []. This model uses the acronym ACT to focus on (1) Acknowledging the critical incident, (2) Compassion, care, and competence in the critical incident response, and (3) Transitioning toward future focus as a response to a suicide. This tool can serve as a guide for those working to support a workplace or group following a suicide death.

A number of support groups also exist in Michigan for family, friends, and community members who have survived a loss. [] lists these support groups by location and includes their contact and meeting information.

Sadly, Rep. Kivela is not alone. Without intervention, nearly 800 men of working age will die by suicide this year in Michigan. is standing by to help, offering important prevention strategies and resources to help educate the public and work to lessen the likelihood of similar tragedies in the future. If you are living with depression or suicidal thoughts, or if you are worried about someone, please visit offers free online mental health screenings, educational information, and comprehensive local, statewide, and national mental health, suicide, substance use, and crisis resources. The website is part of a larger campaign focused on depression and suicide, but also includes access to resources on stress and anxiety, trauma, relationships, alcohol use, and much more. Researchers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore are collaborating with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. to work with partners throughout Michigan in evaluating this online program for working-aged men. We encourage anyone in Michigan who might benefit from an online screening for depression or suicide to visit the website or share it.

“The stigma present around seeking help for mental health issues is pervasive, particularly for men. Men in Michigan are no different. is a great campaign that will allow men in our state to begin thinking about problems they may be having in a different light,” said Patricia K. Smith, Violence Prevention Program Coordinator, Injury & Violence Prevention, Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.

“We hope our community members can feel that they are not alone in this time of sadness.  At the local level, we are striving to increase awareness of community resources as well as to strengthen those connections to promote help-seeking behavior.  Dial Help Crisis Services are available for all Upper Peninsula residents and are a partner with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Upper Peninsula residents can access Dial Help by calling 1-800-562-7622, texting (906) 35-NEEDS, or chatting at” said Sarah Derwin, Health Educator, Marquette County Health Department.

About University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Social Work

The University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Social Work is a highly-ranked institution that produces outstanding social workers whose practice advances the well-being of all the people they serve, especially members of populations at risk. U.S. News & World Report ranks the School 17th in their 2016 list of Best Graduate Schools in America. Part of a public university in a diversified state and region, the School promotes social and economic justice in all of its activities. The School provides professional leadership through its programs of education, practice, research, scholarship, service innovation, consultation, and advocacy. For more information about the School of Social Work, visit

About Screening for Mental Health

Screening for Mental Health, the pioneer of large-scale mental health screening for the public, provides innovative mental health and substance use resources, linking those in need with quality treatment options. Its programs, offered online and in-person, educate, raise awareness and screen individuals for common mental health disorders and suicide. Thousands of organizations worldwide utilize the educational and screening programs, and in turn, have reached millions of people ranging from teenagers to adults. For more information about Screening for Mental Health, visit

This project is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number, 1 U01 CE002661-01, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.


Amanda Mosby, University of Maryland, Baltimore, 410-706-4705 or

Sue Thorn, Screening for Mental Health, 781-591-5243 or