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"A Better Normal" Community Discussion: Suicide Awareness and Community Cafes


Join us on Friday November 6, 2020 from noon to 1:00 PST as we come together and join Satya Chandragiri MD, Bonnie O’Hern RN, Denise Proudfoot RN, & Michael Polacek RN for a discussion around the tender issue of suicide. Together we will discuss ways people and providers can support each other and encourage communities to take action to support one another around suicide prevention, crisis intervention, and the layers of culture and structural barriers to care. A special emphasis will be on school aged youth, their families, and the wider community.

The conversation will be framed around ACEs science, with an emphasis on trauma sensitive practices that can be implemented in communities, schools, correctional facilities and healthcare systems. Our guests will explore ways to encourage healing and health using a variety of techniques including expressive writing, mindful practices, yoga and more. Together we will explore ways to expand community capacity and address stigma. A healthy community prevents causal factors such as childhood adversity and supports recovery so people can thrive.

Join us on Friday November 6th for this important conversation.  To register click REGISTER

Meet the speakers:

Satya Chandragiri MDSatya Chandragiri MD is a board certified psychiatrist and attended the Bangalore Medical College and National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, in India and Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. He has worked as a psychiatrist in India, Saint Lucia as well USA, serving Oregon for the past twenty years. Dr. Chandragiri currently serves as Chair of the Salem Keizer School Board.

He has served those with mental illness, addiction, traumatic brain injuries and other neuropsychiatric conditions in long term care, community psychiatry for rural Oregon, Salem Hospital staff psychiatrist, and psychiatric private practice. Formerly served VA community based clinic, former superintendent and chief medical officer of state hospital in Oregon and international experience of starting a mental health program in Saint Lucia and served as a faculty in medical school in India.

As we face trauma from multiple disasters including the COVID-19 pandemic, social economic fallout, rekindling of racial trauma, wildfires and its aftermath, we all stand exposed to the underlying fault line of long standing racial and structural inequities in our community and in our school district. It has amplified the intersectionality of various forms of adversities. Addressing this complex issue is fundamental to ensure our community and schools remain a safe space for learning and healing.

Addressing this requires approaching the complex structural issues at many levels including at the level of macro system, mesosystem and microsystem with the goal of finding alignment of vision, policies, financing, organizational culture and outcome metrics that aims at healing the generational and developmental trauma in communities.

Using the perspective of an immigrant parent of color, psychiatrist and the chair of Salem-Keizer school board during this historic time, I will present the experience of addressing the challenges and opportunities of tackling the issues at a macro system level. This will include ways to identify underlying issues, using data to inform policies, advocate for resources allocation, overcoming barriers to change and identifying opportunities using multi sector coalition and multi-racial listening sessions. An outcome indicator of expulsions, suspensions and students entering the justice system will be used as an example for this presentation to illustrate the complexity of the issues involved. Ways to use an equity principle in addressing this will be discussed.

Bonnie O’Hern RN has been a school nurse for 18 years in Oregon, California and Illinois. Her first seven years as a nurse at Loyola Hospital in Illinois with two years conducting research. One of her professional goals is to communicate this year’s 3 big crisis-Pandemic, an outcry of years of silence against the wrongs done to Black people, and the extreme natural environment changes that have occurred.Bonnie OHern

All of these crises have either triggered a trauma or created an adverse experience. It would be helpful to have some sort of social group in schools for students to talk about how they are dealing with these areas, gather suggestions on how to move through the hurt or even the “WHY”. Then once feelings can be identified, HEALing which creates change and begins. Change means something has been identified to change and we can be stronger when something similar comes into our life again. If we feel strong we will feel good about ourselves, preventing ACE’s out of another crisis.

It would seem being able to gather and talk in a group setting would be best. Allowing everyone in the group to speak or write down their thoughts and feelings maybe having a drop box for those that are not comfortable at first expressing their feelings verbally but has something to say. If feelings can be identified and feeling expressed could be a start towards preventing suicide-maybe. This could be in a school, social setting, church or virtually. Now it is hard to gather.

Denise Proudfoot RN has been a pediatric nurse for 24 years. She began her transition from inpatient surgical and ICU care into community care 7 years ago in work as Intake Coordinator and Family Support Specialist at Liberty House Child Abuse Assessment Center in Salem, Oregon. There, introduced by a team of experts to the principles of ACEs, she was immersed in a culture of mindful, trauma-sensitive approaches to clinical and forensic work that transformed and enlivened her.

Denise pediatric nurseNow applying a passion for trauma-sensitive practices to work as a school health RN, she seeks to educate and empower high school students to take charge of their own holistic well-being and to inspire paradigm shifts and system change at the many intersections of adolescent health and education. She resides happily amongst the tall trees of the PNW as a photographer, nature-lover, aspiring gardener and bird-watcher, recovering perfectionist, survivor of religious trauma, and I-don’t-want-to-cook mom to two spirited teenagers.

Michael Polacek RN [po-LA-check] has worked as a direct care working in mental health and corrections since 1979 as a CNA, LVN, and RN. He has worked in group homes, school districts, Oregon State Hospital Forensics Psychiatric Program, the Oregon State Penitentiary, MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility and within patient medical environments. He is currently a Professional Development Specialist with Salem Health in Salem Oregon and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Oregon Chapter.Michael Polacek RN

Michael sees himself as a nurse policy entrepreneur who actively advocates for improvements in how mental health care is delivered in his community and within his healthcare organization. While his focus is on the immediate need to stop the unrestrained number of suicides in Oregon, he also recognizes that supporting education initiatives for all community members. Rescuing someone in crisis must be first, but at the same time a healthy community prevents causal factors like adverse experiences and programs that support recovery so people can thrive not just survive.

Expanding the community capacity to supplement direct care provider services and systems requires that the community is prepared perform suicide prevention gatekeeper behaviors, destroy the stigma that encourages silence, and to establish a trauma informed community. How we think is more important than what we do, because our actions are a result of how we think. Implementing and sustaining a framework like the Self-Healing Community can create a consilience among policy makers, direct service agents and agencies, the layperson in the community and the person needing care. As it is now, there are great community services, but no organized effort to coordinate them as a single system. But we are well on our way to change!

To register click here: REGISTER


Images (4)
  • Michael Polacek RN
  • Denise pediatric nurse
  • Bonnie OHern
  • Satya Chandragiri MD

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