You’re Going to Love Washington, DC

2017-06-29_21-51-40You really liked Phoenix.

Thanks to the nearly 400 attendees who shared their feedback in the 2017 American Association of Suicidology conference survey. We utilized SurveyMonkey global benchmark questions that allowed us to compare our results with thousands of similar events.

For example, the question “How likely is it that you would recommend the AAS conference to a friend or colleague?” produced a NetPromoter Score of 53. That’s well above the expected average for similar events of 39.

2017-06-23_11-22-22Another finding. How well you liked Phoenix depended on the AAS division with which you most strongly affiliated. Those who selected “Lived Experience” had a NetPromoter score of 83, while those who indicated the strongest preference for “Loss Survivor” had a score of 39.

I’m thrilled that Dr. Raymond Tucker, Asst. Prof. of Psychology at LSU (@RaymondPTucker), will serve as Program Chair for Washington, DC in 2018. Together, we were intent on getting to the core of how the seven AAS divisions felt about the strength and quantity of their respective content in Phoenix. One of our strong objectives is to ensure the best possible “just right” focus on each division. For example, we want those who selected “Research,” to feel like the best science is on display at AAS18.

However, the content areas you felt were least represented in Phoenix were Prevention, Crisis and Clinical, in that order.

We’ve heard your feedback, and…

You’re going to love Washington, DC.

We’re brainstorming with the AAS leadership specific ways to improve your experience, given the many hats this association wears. Breaking some of the traditional Plenary Sessions into three to five large Thought Leader presentations and highlighting workshops and content for specific Division Tracks will give you more choices.

We also hope you’ll “jump the tracks” at times to get to know other divisions in this rich and diverse AAS family, but these approaches will strengthen your choices to create your own unique conference experience.


We’re studying your dream presenters and topics. There were many speaker names mentioned in the responses, but only nine came up more than seven times. The volume of requests for Thomas Joiner was remarkable (mentioned 49 times). Marsha Linehan, David Klonsky, Matt Nock, Marjan Holloway, Kevin Hines, David Jobes and Rory O’Connor were also dream speakers.

Eight different people said they would love to see more diversity in speakers, with people of color and/or women presenting on the plenary stage more often.

TED Talks are strongly desired and there was also quite a bit of interest in a moderated debate, an approach we’ve seen very effectively utilized by the European Symposium for Suicide and Suicidal Behavior (ESSSB).

We’ll finalize a theme for AAS18 soon, and solicit your suggestions. When Frank Campbell used the phrase “Grief to Action” in the Phoenix Saturday loss survivor panel, it stuck. One can readily think of comparable action ideas for each of our divisions, and we encourage your ideas on how to pull that into a unified theme for Washington, DC.


We’ll provide routine updates as we advance our planning, stay tuned to @AASuicidology for the latest and expect the call for papers soon. There will also be an announcement of the winners of the free conference registrations drawn randomly from the survey participants.

Whether your main interest at the conference is crisis or clinical, whether you are a student or veteran researcher, whether what inspires you most comes from survivors or family… we are reviewing your feedback and crafting a conference that unites our field… AND empowers you to make the conference your own personal creation.

Finally, the feedback from Phoenix suggested that we might have reacted more quickly with a plenary addressing the “13 Reasons Why” Netflix series. Please stay in touch with us to communicate your ideas all the way up through next spring, and feel free to contact any of us who are preparing for Washington, DC. That team includes our Board of Directors plus the following:

  • Colleen Creighton, AAS Executive Director
  • Amy Kulp, AAS Deputy Director
  • Julie Cerel, Professor of Social Work at University of Kentucky (@juliecerel) and AAS President
  • Joseph Franklin, Asst. Prof. of Psychology at FSU (@JoeFranklinPhD) and Program Chair for AAS Conference 2019 in Denver, Colorado

Finally, if you haven’t yet seen my TED-Style Talk “Lessons from Ebola: Is Suicide Really Contagious?”


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