#SPSM expert panel chats about #LeelahAlcorn 1/11/15: #Suicide prevention, social media, and the transgender community

Dr. Rylan Testa, Ms. Sabrina Strong, and Ms. Dese’Rae Stage chat with #SPSM (1/11/15 9pm CST) about the issues surrounding the death of Leelah Alcorn by suicide. This is an opportunity to chat with an expert on suicide risks in the transgender community, as well as media-savvy LGBTQIK advocates.  Please join us to contribute to an important social conversation on a nuanced topic.

You can catch the LIVE stream of our expert panel here: https://plus.google.com/events/c1j8bgt2mebgav688vub68g8ab8

The Tweets for this chat will be archived on Storify.

Live tweeters from the #SPSM community will also assist in covering the panel, as well as an appearance from the Bowl of Interesting Questions.

For those of you who would appreciate a review of recent events regarding Leelah Alcorn, you can get a good review here.

This case is particularly complex, from an #SPSM perspective, as there are several aspects of this situation that unfolded using social media, including Leelah Alcorn’s attempts to seek support via Reddit, Tumblr, and other social media platforms; her use of social media to posthumously publish suicide notes directed at different audiences (one on transgender advocacy, one to her close family and friends, and one to her parents); conflicting opinions about whether or not that note should have been posted, shared, deleted, cached/shared, etc.; use of social media to comment and rally regarding transgender activism from different communities; use of social media to dox Leelah’s mother; and use of social media to extend help/support.

There is strong focus on the transgender discrimination and activism aspects of this case, especially in terms of preventing future tragedies due to social and legal change, but significantly less conversation about possible missed intervention opportunities, and especially much less conversation about her social media activities prior to her death, such as her posts to Reddit on /r/suicidewatch.

Our panel (moderated by @DocForeman) includes:

testa 2

Rylan Jay Testa, Ph.D., is a faculty member of the Multicultural Suicide Research Center at Palo Alto University and serves as Program Manager of the Transgender Research Consortium and the Gender and Youth Program at the Center for LGBTQ Evidence-Based Applied Research (CLEAR). His work focuses on understanding, preventing, and treating physically self-destructive behaviors, including suicide, addiction, obesity, and health risk-taking. Dr. Testa is particularly committed to addressing these issues in underserved communities. He has demonstrated leadership in the area of transgender psychology, and transgender suicidality. Dr. Testa has conducted large scale studies, authored multiple articles, and developed new measures that elucidate aspects of suicide risk and resilience in the transgender community. Dr. Testa received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Temple University and completed pre-doctoral training at the Department of Veterans Affairs – Palo Alto.

Sabrina Strong

Sabrina Strong, MPH, ADS  is the Executive Director of the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition and Waking Up Alive, a non-profit organization that provides suicide prevention and support services throughout the state of New Mexico.  Sabrina is a suicide attempt survivor who talks openly about her experiences in conjunction with her work as a trainer in programs such as QPR (Questions, Persuade, & Refer), Mental Health First Aid, Working Minds, and CALM (Counseling on Access to Lethal Means) and she also serves on the Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.  Sabrina works as a volunteer staff member and peer counselor at the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.


Dese’Rae L. Stage is a photographer based in New York City. As a student she studied the psychological causes and effects of self-injury. She has lived experience of suicide attempt, and is known for her national media work for suicide prevention advocacy. She services this mission with LIVE THROUGH THIS, a photo project aimed at reducing stigma associated with attempted suicide, as well as promoting awareness, prevention, and prevention education, “by confronting the viewer with images of real people who have struggled with these issues… and won. The intention is to illustrate that, not only are suicide attempt survivors human, but we are everywhere and sometimes even those who play a role in our day-to-day lives may not know our dark histories; that we are essentially like everyone else; that we have battle wounds and, ultimately, we’ve learned that we have something to live for. By not acknowledging or speaking of our truths, by ignoring the elephant in the room, the silence is not only deafening, but it can also be deadly.”

About spsmchat

Suicide Prevention Social Media: Weekly chats, expert guests. Sundays at 6pm PT/9pm ET. Live-streaming at Twitter.com/spsmchat. Watch past shows on our blog. Hosted by Rudy Caseres. #SPSM
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