Suicidality: Changing the Narrative

America is in the midst of a suicide crisis. Earlier this year, the Center for Disease Control released statistics showing that the rate of suicide increased by 33% between 1999 and 2017. Since 2008, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages. That rate only increases when there is a history of childhood abuse and neglect. However, as therapists most of us received little, if any training, about how to manage a suicidal crisis. Most of the training that is available focuses on ‘fixing’ the problem of suicide through prediction and prevention techniques. In this presentation we will ask our participants to re-consider current understanding of suicidal behaviors as the problem, and demonstrate through case examples, how suicidality holds meaning for our clients, that requires exploration. We will present techniques to help clinicians work through the many emotional, practical, and ethical problems that can arise from an acute or chronic suicidal crisis. We hope that clinicians will leave with a new language and tools for a new kind of conversation about suicide, one that leaves both survivor and therapist with a sense of hope, in what has traditionally been a hopelessness inducing experience. 


Target Audience


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Identify three current narratives that make working through a suicidal crisis so difficult for both clinicians and survivors of abuse and neglect
  • Identify and describe how suicidal behaviors serve as a complex coping mechanism for survivors of abuse and neglect
  • Describe to survivors of abuse and neglect how to reframe the suicidal crisis by identifying the underlying meaning and opening up a different kind of dialogue
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter: Cornelia Tietke, MSW
Presenter Bio: Cornelia Tietke, LICSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Washington, DC. She specializes in the treatment of complex trauma in adults and also in the treatment of travel anxiety. For ten years, she worked as a psychotherapist and social worker in the inpatient unit of the Center for Post-Traumatic Disorders program at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. She also serves as a board member of the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy + Psychoanalysis.

Presenter: Simone Jacobs, LCSW-C
Presenter Bio: Simone Jacobs is a graduate of Kings College, London University and Smith College School of Social Work. Since obtaining her MSW over 10 years ago, she has focused her training and experience on working with survivors of trauma. She first became interested in working with trauma when she interned at The Center: Posttraumatic Disorders Program. She now runs a group practice, in Takoma Park, MD with a focus on working with survivors of trauma and women of color. She is also the co-author of "Understanding the Paradox of Surviving Childhood Trauma."

Presenter:  Joanne Zucchetto, MSW
Presenter Bio: Joanne is a graduate of Hunter College in New York, and University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. She has been a trauma therapist for over 20 years, working in two of the most established trauma treatment programs in the country, at Shepard Pratt and here at The Center: Posttraumatic Disorders Program. She is currently running a busy private practice in Friendship Heights, and is the co-author of a new book, “Understanding the Paradox of Surviving Childhood Trauma”

Available Credit

  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


ISSTD Member cost:
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"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level. 

  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
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