2014: Transition to working privately in suicide prevention and bereavement and more, including The Intersection of Art And Mental Health, with my Talk With ME podcast and hosting events featuring poets and other artists.
2013: Late-March, I severely broke my right leg. In April, thanks to my leadership, Headquarters, Inc. received Crisis Center Excellence Award from the American Association of Suicidology. Late-November, I was fired. Late-December, I began hosting Talk With ME on internet radio based in Lawrence, Kansas.
August 2012: Became trainer of ASIST, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. Returned from that training in NYC and received notice of award from SAMHSA to Headquarters, Inc. I maintained many on-going responsibilities and also became part-time Program Director for three-year federal grant of $480,000 per year to coordinate suicide prevention for young Kansans, 10- 24 years of age. The grant had been submitted by an ad hoc committee of the Suicide Prevention Subcommittee of the Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council. Grant-writers were Bill Art, Stan Edlavitch, Bill Geis and me.
November 2003: Re-started a suicide bereavement group after a few years without regular attendees or requests. The group meets every other Tuesday evening, and sadly is very needed, and fortunately is very helpful.
April 2003: Mother’s death
2001: Led Headquarters, Inc. in becoming the center for Kansas for callers to national suicide prevention hotline network with credentialing by American Association of Suicidology. Became provider of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and developed first Emergency Management Disaster Mental Health Team in Kansas.
1980’s through 2010’s: I participated in a broad range of community organizations and task forces, served as a volunteer for Douglas County Hospice and what was then called Douglas County Rape Victim Support Services. I served on a not successful committee urging our City to adopt policies of non-discrimination against GLB (not yet T) people. I was part of the group which founded the Douglas County AIDS Project in 1989. And my involvement with suicide prevention at the local, state, and national levels grows and grows.
1985: With our school district’s Director of Nursing, Martha Skeet, and school social worker Bob Franz, I helped develop and present teen suicide prevention education programs in local junior highs. Began participating in the American Association of Suicidology
August 1982: Our small wedding
October 1979: Began service as Director of Headquarters, Inc., the free, 24 hour counseling center in Lawrence, Kansas
August 1975: As a young undergrad at Kansas University, I began service as volunteer counselor for Headquarters, Inc., the free, 24 hour counseling center in Lawrence, Kansas
The early years: I was born in the Los Angeles area. Too soon, our parents divorced and with our mother and stepfather, we lived in the Texas panhandle. When our mother, my three brothers and I re-located to Kansas City, I learned to speak English, not just Southern. I graduated from high school at 17 and thanks to my mother’s father, I was able to attend Kansas University.
THE LONGER VERSION
Positions and Honors
Summer 2017: Peer Reviewer for SAMHSA suicide prevention grant
July 2017: Accepted position on Leadership Team of NAMI Douglas County, a chapter of NAMI Kansas
October 2015: Founded Stayin’ Alive support group for survivors of suicide thoughts and attempts
July 2015: At Midwest Regional Suicide Prevention Conference: provided workshops on art and suicide attempt survivors, supporting survivors of suicide loss, and reducing suicide risk in transgender people; and became trainer of CALM Counseling on Access to Lethal Means
December 2014 – July 2015: Served as Training Team Member, Trans Lifeline, national hotline for transgender and gender nonconforming youth and adults
Autumn 2014 – present: Planner and Judge for annual Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Prize of the QPR Institute and American Association for Suicidology
Summer 2014: Peer Reviewer for SAMHSA suicide prevention grant
May 2014: Began hosting poetry events including annual Words Save Lives on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10
March 2014: Became trainer of QPR, suicide prevention education
January 2014: Began MarciaEpstein.biz, counseling and training
October 2013 – present: Member, Kansas Mental Health Coalition
2013 – 2016: Suicidologist consultant and Associate Producer for documentary film “The Listeners”
March 2012 – August 2014: Co-Chair Suicide Prevention Subcommittee, (Kansas) Governor’s Behavioral Health Services Planning Council
March 2010 – February 2012: Chair of Suicide Prevention Subcommittee, (Kansas) Governor’s Mental Health Services Planning Council
2000 – February 2017: Member and/or officer state Suicide Prevention Committee which became a subcommittee of the (Kansas) Governor’s Mental/ Behavioral Health Services Planning Council; which was eliminated in 2017.
10/1/79 – 11/20/13: Director, Headquarters, Inc., Lawrence, KS
August 2012 – 2015: Trainer of ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training)
8/1/12-11/20/13: Program Director / Principal Investigator, SAMHSA-funded Kansas Youth Suicide Prevention: Collaboration and Services Across Our State
2012: Only in Lawrence Recognition, The World Co.
2006 – 2007: Consultant on teen suicide and self harm for Department of Education SHIFTS grant for Topeka, KS USD 501
2006: Kansas – NASW Social Worker of the Year
Winter 2004-2005: Member of SAMHSA’s first Advisory Board for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
October 2003: Participated in regional SPRC conference in Colorado
2001 – November 2013: Douglas County Emergency Management roles including: leader of Disaster Mental Health Team, served on Public Information Officers, served on LEPC/Board
2001 – present: Provider of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)
1995 – present: Facilitator of survivors of suicide bereavement support group and annual retreats; provide bereavement support to individuals and families
1987 – present: Conference presentations include: “Teen Suicide Prevention Education” at 1987 Convening Conference, Chicago; “Support of Ritual Abuse Survivors” at 1993 AAS Conference, San Francisco and 1995 Conference of Society for Intervention, Treatment, and Prevention of Cult and Ritual Abuse, Dallas; “Suicidality: A Continuum of Crisis” at 2002 Association of Community Mental Health Centers In Kansas annual conference; Crisis Center Evaluation” – with Brian Mishara at 2004 AAS Conference, Miami; provided “Suicide Prevention 101” presentations for annual conferences of state-wide professional organizations including juvenile corrections, emergency medical, and school nurses
1985 – present: Serve as local and regional consultant, presenter, and trainer on crisis intervention, suicide prevention and suicide bereavement. University audiences include students and staff of University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Baker University, and Washburn University. State audiences include Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) researchers, and Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Public school staff audiences include Lawrence, KS USD 497 and Topeka, KS USD 501. Local agency audiences have includes staff of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, advocates for the Willow Domestic Violence Center, and therapists at K.U. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
1985 – 2011: Developed and provided teen suicide prevention education to Douglas County junior high health classes
Other Experience and Professional Memberships
~ American Association of Suicidology, member including annual conference participation since 1985
~ Douglas County, Kansas Emergency Management Board, through 2013
~ Douglas County, Kansas Emergency Management Disaster Mental Health Team: Leader 2001 – 2006
~ Douglas County KAHBH (Kansas All Hazards Behavioral Health Team), since 2006
~ International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, since 2001
~ Kansas Mental Health Coalition, since September 2013
~ Kansas – NASW
~ Participated in Kansas team at University of Rochester Spring 2008 Research Institute on Promotion of Mental Health Through Community Collaborations in Research.
~ Chair of Suicide Prevention Subcommittee, March 2010 – February 2012: activities included bringing David Litts from Suicide Prevention Resource Center for presentations during Suicide Prevention Week 2010
~ 2011 – 2012: Member of Haskell Indian Nations University Suicide Prevention Work Group
Notable Accomplishments as Director of Headquarters, Inc
~ Began teen suicide prevention education in 1985
~ Began phone line and safety programs for children in 1985
~ Began survivors of suicide support groups in 1995
~ Provided annual community awareness activities during Suicide Prevention Week and International Survivors of Suicide Day
~ Headquarters became first center in Kansas to be certified by American Association of Suicidology in 2001
~ Headquarters became member of 1.800.SUICIDE, the National Hopeline Network, first national suicide prevention network, since 2001
~ Established first Emergency Management Disaster Mental Health Team in Kansas in 2001
~ Participated in SAMHSA-funded 2003-2004 Silent Monitoring research project
~ Headquarters became member of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, national suicide prevention network, since its inception in January 2005
~ Headquarters was first & only Kansas center on national suicide prevention network
~ Headquarters was first Kansas center credentialed by American Association of Suicidology
~ Served on grant-writing committee that resulted in SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Grant for Kansas, for August 2012 through July 2015
~ Center was recognized with Crisis Center Excellence Award by American Association of Suicidology, April 2013
Education and Licensure
Since 2000: LMSW #4644 from Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board
2000: MSW in Clinical Social Work from Kansas University
1997: BGS in Social Sciences from Kansas University
With family, including a beloved rescue dog, live in “painted lady” Victorian home on National Register of Historic Sites in the Oread Neighborhood of Lawrence, Kansas. Hobbies include collecting antique beads from African and Native American trade, knitting, learning to play guitar, reading, and promoting poetry as an important tool for communication and connection. Volunteerism has included service through hospice, rape/sexual assault support, AIDS support, local schools, and neighborhood/preservation organizations.