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  • Suicide Prevention Research Team

     

    Our Suicide Prevention Research Team, housed within the College of Education at Florida State University, is comprised of doctoral students, master’s students, select undergraduate students and our campus Suicide Prevention Coordinator. Our research focuses on preventing suicide and improving well-being among college students. Our team also conducts research related to college student mental health in the areas of disordered eating, LGBTQIA, athletes, and students with disabilities. Through our research, we hope to improve the ability of college campuses to help students thrive.

    Research Team Membersexpand menu

    Marty Swanbrow Becker, Ph.D.
    “Dr. SB” is an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Counseling Services at Florida State University and serves as the Principal Investigator for the team. He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Counseling Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2013. His current research examines the efficacy of suicide prevention interventions and applies the knowledge gained to design and deliver programs to reduce the prevalence of suicidal experiences among adolescents and young adults.  He also explores the personal and contextual factors that influence the progression of adolescents and young adults along a distress and suicidal continuum of experience with a focus on stress, coping, resilience, help seeking, and diversity of background. In his free time, he enjoys exploring the big bend region with his family.

    Katie McLeanKatie McLean
    Katie is currently a doctoral student in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology PhD program at Florida State University. Prior to entering the doctoral program, Katie worked as a researcher and Mental Health Specialist at a residential facility for abused and traumatized children in Northeast Ohio. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy in 2013 from Furman University. Katie is currently researching how living-learning communities protect against distress and suicidality in first-year students transitioning to college. Katie also loves running, singing, playing guitar, and traveling!

    Christina Colgary, M.S.
    Christina Colgary is a doctoral student in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She is from New Jersey and received her B.S. in Psychology at Saint Joseph’s University and her M.S. in Experimental Psychology at Seton Hall University. Her clinical and research interests include eating disorder symptomology in adolescence and adulthood, mindfulness meditation, multiculturalism, stress regulation, and help-seeking behaviors. Christina is also vice president of FSU’s Active Minds chapter, an organization that works to change the conversation about mental health on campus. She enjoys playing soccer, running, yoga, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

    Jaylene Spannring, M.S.
    Jaylene received her B.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA before earning her M.S. in Sport Psychology from Florida State University. Jaylene is a student in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology doctoral program. She is the President and Co-founder of the Active Minds Organization at FSU. She has a wide array of research interests including how sports influence at-risk youth, athletic injury, mental health, social support and coping, exercise and mental health, chronic pain/illness, disability and mental health and coping, relaxation, art therapy, and trauma.

    Diana Gonzalez, M.S.W.
    Diana is currently working on her doctorate in Florida State’s Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology program, with a focus in counseling psychology. Diana received her M.S.W. with a concentration in mental health counseling from the University of Southern California and her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Educational Studies from the University of Florida. She has worked with various populations including youth with disabilities, both adult and child survivors of domestic violence, and Veterans. Diana’s research interests cover trauma, adverse childhood experiences, suicide, post-traumatic growth, and life perspectives. In her spare time, Diana enjoys spending time with her husband and two cute pups, Thor and Princess Leia.

    Shanteria Owens, M.S.
    Shanteria Owens is a native of Stone Mountain, Georgia. She decided to pursue a career in psychology because she wants to help people overcome the challenges they experience. She attended Georgia State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She later pursued a Master of Science degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology from Brenau University and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Counseling and School Psychology at Florida State University. Her clinical and research interests are in the areas of trauma and suicidal experiences. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

    Cara KnoeppelCara Knoeppel, B.A.
    Cara is a doctoral student in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology program at Florida State University. She received her bachelors degree in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois in Chicago. Cara’s work at a Chicago area mental health center serving youth in crisis led her to pursue suicide prevention research and initiatives.  Prior to entering the program, Cara was part of a research group at the University of Wisconsin investigating the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based curriculum for teachers and students in public schools.  Cara’s research and clinical interests include suicide prevention, maladaptive cognitions, resiliency, post-traumatic growth, and gratitude.

    Brandon Cooper, M.S.
    Brandon T. Cooper (“Coop”) is a 1st year doctoral student at Florida State University in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology program. Coop received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Criminology from The Ohio State University in 2010. In 2012, he received his master’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. He is currently working on completing his master’s thesis towards a master’s degree in Sport Psychology at Florida State University. His research interests include mindfulness, self-compassion, injury and pain, and coping with stress/distress. In addition to his school work, Coop is involved in FSU’s Sport Psychology Organization and Research Team (SPORT), and FSU’s Active Minds organization. He also enjoys his work with FSU student academic services and mentoring Seminole student-athletes. In his free time, Coop enjoys lifting weights, yoga, and watching sports of all kinds.

    Kirsten ChristensenKirsten Christensen
    Kirsten is an undergraduate student at Florida State University, studying psychology and statistics. Kirsten joined Dr. Swanbrow Becker’s research team through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program her freshman year and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and continue research on mental health. Kirsten loves traveling and bringing humor into life.

     

    Jaymee SpannringJaymee Spannring, M.B.A
    Jaymee is the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at Florida State University. She earned her MBA with a concentration in Healthcare Administration from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. In addition, she also has a Certificate in Instructional Design. Jaymee is the Advisor and co-founder for the Active Minds Organization at FSU. Her areas of interest include suicide prevention, mental health awareness, stress management, mental health and exercise, and suicide prevention training. Jaymee enjoys playing sports and staying active, baking, singing, exploring Tallahassee, and spending time with friends and family.

    Erin Morpeth, B.S.
    Erin is currently pursuing her M.S./Ed.S. in FSU’s Mental Health Counseling program. She received her B.S. in Psychology and Religion from Florida State University in April 2016. After completion of the program, she hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. Erin’s research interests include suicide prevention, suicide and perfectionism, anxiety disorders, depression, equine-assisted psychotherapy, and university student counseling. In her free time, Erin enjoys sailing, horseback riding, all things music, and spending time with her dog, Landis.

     

    RESEARCH TEAM ALUMNI:

    Tyler BranaganTyler Branagan, M.S., Ed.S.
    Tyler is a licensed psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He completed his doctoral training at Florida State University, his doctoral internship at the University of Virginia, and his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado-Boulder. His clinical work focuses on psychotherapy, psychiatric evaluation for organ transplants, and behavioral health consultations at the University of Colorado Hospital. His primary research interests are the assessment and prevention of suicide and the integration of behavioral health in healthcare systems. In his free time he enjoys hiking, reading, playing guitar, and spending time with friends and family.

    Sam RittsSam Ritts, B.S.
    Sam is currently finishing her internship in the M.S./Ed.S. School Psychology program at FSU in a Georgia school district. Sam earned her B.S. in Psychology from FSU in 2011. She is most interested in suicide intervention and prevention; mood, personality, and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents; and exploring the relationship between mental and physical health. She hopes to eventually obtain her Ph.D. and pursue a career in research and academia. Sam’s favorite hobby is spending time with her puppy, Delilah.

    Paige BlankenshipPaige Blankenship, B.S.
    Paige received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida and then spent a few years in the world of advertising before pursuing graduate studies. Paige is a doctoral student in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology Ph.D. program, with a focus on children and adolescents. She works with children in a variety of settings, including schools, medical settings, and private practice. Paige’s research interests include traumatic brain injury, trauma, suicide, and the social-emotional needs of children and adolescents. She’s also a native Floridian who loves to travel, but lives for the beach.

    Colleen ThomasColleen Thomas Hess, M.A.
    Colleen received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida before earning her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Colleen is a student in the Combined Counseling Psychology and School Psychology doctoral program, and her primary research interests include resilience and distress tolerance among high school and college-aged youth. She is particularly interested in the intersection of mental health and athletes, including concerns such as anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and stigma. She is a life-long athlete herself, and she enjoys coaching juniors’ volleyball all year round!

    Research Publicationsexpand menu

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Schelbe, L., Romano, K., & Spinelli, C. (in press). Promoting First-Generation College Students’ Mental Health: Student Perceptions of an Academic Enrichment Program. Journal of College Student Development, 32 pages.

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Blankenship, A. P., Melo, K., Spencer, K., Thomas, C., McLean, K., & Singer, H. (in press). Improving Resident Assistant Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training Through Focus Group Feedback. College Student Affairs Journal, 26 pages.

    Thomas, C., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (2017). What’s Stopping the Connection? Examining How Resident Assistant Demographics and Experience Create Barriers to Intervening with Residents in Distress. Prevention and Health Promotion: Research, Practice and Training10, 4-13.

    Canto, A., Swanbrow Becker, M. A., Cox, B., Hayden, S., & Osborn, D. (2017). College students in crisis: Identification, response options, and prevention for residence life professionals. Journal of College and University Student Housing43(2), 44-57.

    McLean, K., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (2017). Bridging the Gap: Connecting RAs and Suicidal Residents Through Gatekeeper Training. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior48, 20. doi:10.1111/sltb.12348

    Swanbrow Becker, M. A., Nemeth Roberts, S., Ritts, S., Branagan, W. T., Warner, A., & Clark, S. (2017). Supporting Transgender College Students: Implications for Clinical Intervention and Campus Prevention. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy31, 155-176. doi:10.1080/87568225.2016.1253441

    Thomas, C., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (2016). Summary of Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training for Resident Assistants: A Between Groups Control Design Study. Prevention and Health Promotion: Research, Social Action, Practice and Training9(1), 27-28.

    Swanbrow Becker, M., & Drum, D. (2015). Essential Counseling Knowledge and Skills to Prepare Student Affairs Staff to Promote Emotional Wellbeing and Intervene With Students in Distress. Journal of College and Character, 14 (4), 201-208. doi:10.1080/2194587X.2015.1091363

    Swanbrow Becker, M. A., & Drum, D. J. (2015). The influence of suicide prevention gatekeeper training on Resident Assistants’ Mental Health. Journal of Student Affairs, Research and Practice52 (1), 76-88. doi:10.1080/19496591.2015.996055

    Conference Presentations expand menu

    Members of our Suicide Prevention Research Team have presented at many professional conferences, at the local, national, and international levels.

    American Association of Suicidology 2017 Annual Conference, Phoenix, AZ

    American Association of Suicidology 2017 Annual Conference, Phoenix, AZ

    Florida Association of School Social Workers 2017 Annual Conference, Daytona Beach, FL.

    Florida Association of School Social Workers 2017 Annual Conference, Daytona Beach, FL.

    American Association for Suicidology 2017 Annual Convention, Phoenix, AZ.

    American Association for Suicidology 2017 Annual Convention, Phoenix, AZ.

    American Psychological Association 2017 Annual Convention, Washington, D.C.

    American Psychological Association 2017 Annual Convention, Washington, D.C.

    Some of our students meeting with Kevin Hines at the AAS Annual Convention, 2016. To learn more about Kevin Hines check out his amazing story: http://www.kevinhinesstory.com

    Some of our students meeting with Kevin Hines at the AAS Annual Convention, 2016. To learn more about Kevin Hines check out his amazing story: http://www.kevinhinesstory.com

    American Association for Suicidology (AAS) Annual Convention, 2016, Chicago, IL

    American Association for Suicidology (AAS) Annual Convention, 2016, Chicago, IL

    APA 2015

    American Psychological Association (APA) Annual Convention, 2015, Toronto, Canada

     

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Carbonell, D., & Owens, S. (2017, October). Suicide Prevention, Intervention, & Postvention Support to Improve Mental Health among Students and Staff. Workshop delivered at Florida Association of School Social Workers Annual Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida. (State)

    Colgary, C., Romano, K., Magnuson, A., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2017, August). Men in post-secondary education: Attributes of intuitive eating and predictors of eating pathology. Poster presentation at American Psychological Association Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. (National)

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Colgary, C., McLean, K., Carbonell, D., & Morpeth, E. (presented 2017, August). Improving suicide prevention training through continuous learning and the power of community. Presentation at Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. (National)

    Christensen, K., Carbonell, D., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2017, April). Resident Outcomes of Resident Assistant Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training: Implications for Future Interventions. Poster presentation at Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Phoenix, AZ. (National)

    Colgary, C., Swanbrow Becker, M., McLean, K., Gonzalez, D., Owens, S., & Morpeth, E. (presented 2017, April). The future of gatekeeper training: Shifting to continuous and experiential suicide prevention gatekeeper training. Presentation at Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Phoenix, AZ. (National)

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Colgary, C., & McLean, K. (presented 2017, April). Staying Connected: How Living Environment Influences Mental Health and Communication Between Resident Assistant Gatekeepers and Students on College Campuses. Presentation at Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Phoenix, AZ. (National)

    Christensen, K. & Swanbrow Becker, M. (2016, February). Preventing Suicide on Campus: Training Resident Assistants as Gatekeepers. Poster presented at the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference, Tampa, FL. (State)

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Owens, S., Cooper, B., & Morpeth, E. (presented 2017, January). Improving Suicide Prevention Training among Resident Assistants in a College Setting. Presentation at Florida Taking Action for Suicide Prevention Conference, Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, Tallahassee, FL. (State)

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Spannring, J., Carbonell, D., & Colgary, C. (presented 2017, January). Bringing Suicide Prevention to Academic Departments at FSU. Presentation at Florida Taking Action for Suicide Prevention Conference, Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, Tallahassee, FL. (State)

    Blankenship, P., Melo, K., Spencer, K., Thomas, C., McLean, K., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2016, August). Connecting a College Campus: Qualitative Feedback from RA Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training. Poster presentation at American Psychological Association, Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Denver, CO. (National)

    McLean, K. M., Pulido, A., & Swanbrow Becker, M. A. (presented 2016, August). Facilitating college mental health: Why resident hall type matters. Poster presentation at Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Denver, CO. (National)

    Blankenship, A. P., & Canto, A. I., (2016, August). Traumatic brain injuries and special education services in the schools. Poster presentation at American Psychological Association (APA), Annual convention, Denver, CO. (International)

    Ritts, S.M., Swanbrow Becker, M., & Freeman V.F.  (2016, April). The Impact of Social Perception on Student Stress and Coping. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of Council on Research in Education for the College of Education at the Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL (Local)

    Melo, K., Swanbrow Becker, M., Blankenship, P., & Thomas, C. (presented 2016, April). Assessing the Effectiveness of Gatekeeper Training in Preparing Resident Assistants to Identify and Intervene with Suicidal Students through Focus Group Feedback. Presentation at Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Chicago, IL. (National)

    Melo, K., Swanbrow Becker, M., Blankenship, A. P., Spencer, K., Thomas, C., McLean, K. E., (2016, April). Assessing the effectiveness of gatekeeper training in preparing resident assistants to identify and intervene with suicidal residents through focus group feedback. Poster presentation at the Marvalene Hughes Research in Education (CORE) Conference, Tallahassee, FL. (Local)

    Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2016, January). Reducing Suicide and Increasing Well-Being: A Shifting Paradigm. Presentation at Florida Taking Action For Suicide Prevention Conference, Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, Tallahassee, FL. (State)

    Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2015, October). Reducing emotional problems in college by increasing psychological well-being: A shifting paradigm. In Professor Rik Gosselink (Chair), Mental health promotion in college : a sustainable investment in the future. Presentation at the meeting of KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. (International)

    Christensen, K., Melo, K., Spencer, K., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2015, August). The Impact of Resident Assistant Training on Student Help Seeking. Poster presentation at Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Toronto, CA. (International)

    Ritts, S., Swanbrow Becker, M. (Chair), & Freeman, V. (presented 2015, August). The Impact of Social Perception on Student Stress and Coping. Presentation at Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Toronto, Canada. (International)

    Thomas, C., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2015, August). Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training for Resident Assistants: A Between Groups Control Design Study. Poster presentation at Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Toronto, CA. (International)

    Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2015, April). Distress and suicidality in higher education: Implications for population-oriented prevention paradigms. In Patel, A. & Bagge, C. B. (Chairs), Risk factors for suicidal ideation and behavior among college students. Symposium to be presented at the 48th annual meeting of the American Association of Suicidology. Atlanta, GA. Paper presented at Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Atlanta, GA. (National)

    McLean, K., Spencer, K., Melo, K., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2015, April). Bridging the Gap: An Analysis of Resident Assistant Suicide Prevention Training to Connect University RAs and Suicidal Student Residents. Poster presentation at Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Atlanta, GA. (National)

    Thomas, C., Christensen, K., Moussly, T., Eastman, P., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (presented 2015, April). What’s Stopping the Connection?: A Qualitative Examination of Barriers Impacting Resident Assistants’ Decision to Provide Help to Residents on a College Campus. Poster presentation at Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Atlanta, GA. (National)

    Nemeth, S., Swanbrow Becker, M., Branagan, T., Warner, A., Ritts, S., & Clark, S.L. (2015, April). Supporting Transgender College Students: Implications for Clinical Intervention and Campus Prevention. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of Council on Research in Education for the College of Education at the Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL (Local)

    Thomas, C., Eastman, P., Moussly, T., Christensen, K., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (2015, April). What’s stopping the connection? A qualitative examination of barriers impacting resident assistants’ decisions to provide help to students on a college campus. Poster presented at the Council on Research in Education (CORE) Conference, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. (Local)

    Christensen, K. & Swanbrow Becker, M. (2015, March). Connection on Campus: Helping Resident Assistants Prevent Student Suicide. Presented at the Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. (Local)

    Swanbrow Becker, M. A., Nemeth, S. F., Branagan, W. T., Ritts, S. M., & Clark, S. L. (presented 2014, August). Supporting Transgender College Students: Implications for Intervention and Campus Prevention. Presentation at Annual Conference, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. (National)

    Swanbrow Becker, M., & Wong, J. (presented 2014, August). A Mediation Model of Professional Psychological Help Seeking for Suicide Ideation Among Asian American and White American College Students. Presentation at Asian American Psychological Association Annual Conference, Asian American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. (National)

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Blankenship, A. P., Ritts, S., Nemeth Roberts, S., & Branagan, T. (2014, April). The Impact of Training on Resident and Resident Assistants’ Health.Workshop at the Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Atlanta, GA. (National)

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Blankenship, A. P., Ritts, S., Nemeth Roberts, S., & Branagan, T. (2014, April). The Impact of Training on Resident and Resident Assistants’ Health.Paper Presentation at the Marvalene Hughes Research in Education (CORE) Conference, Tallahassee, FL. (Local)

    Nemeth, S. F., Swanbrow Becker, M. A., Branagan, W. T., Warner, A., Ritts, S. M., & Clark, S. L. (presented 2014, March). Research Supporting Transgender College Students and Campus Prevention. Presentation at Trans*Literate Conference, Gay and Lesbian Affirmative Psychotherapy Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, New York. (National)

    Community Outreachexpand menu

    The Suicide Prevention Research Team also works to spread awareness and reduce stigma throughout the community.

    Our team developed a suicide prevention presentation for students and staff at a local 6th-12th grade school. This presentation was created in response to the school’s particular needs. After a successful presentation in 2014, we were asked to return in 2015.

     

    Team Members after a school presentation in 2015

    Team Members after a school presentation in 2015

     

    Dr. Swanbrow Becker serves as part of the Healthy Campus Mental Health Advisory Team. Research team members also attend Advisory Team meetings and contribute as needed.

    As a team, we have been collaborating with other departments and organizations at Florida State University, in order to enhance campus resident assistant (RA) training. Through this ongoing project, we have collaborated with FSU Housing and the University Counseling Center and assisted in developing and researching gatekeeping training for RAs to better help residents in distress.

    In 2015, we were awarded a three year Campus Suicide Prevention grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Our project called “Noles CARE in Academics” aims to enhance existing campus suicide prevention interventions by providing more accessible resources to academic departments across the FSU campus. We will accomplish our goals by training faculty, staff, and students within FSU’s academic departments to localize sources of support in the learning environment of students, and to encourage early detection of student distress and referrals for professional help. Through this project, we hope to make suicide prevention resources more available to our campus community of over 41,000 students and over 14,000 employees. In particular, we will incorporate specific components into our training that addresses high-risk groups such as members of the LGBTQ community, those identifying as racial or ethnic minorities, and veterans.

    Our team developed a suicide prevention presentation for the campus students at a Church of Christ in Tallahassee, FL. Many middle aged couples also attended.  Numerous individuals approached our team afterwards to tell us about personal ways they have been touched by suicide and how thankful they are for our team’s desire to educate on suicide prevention and advocate for decreasing the stigma of mental health issues.


    Active Minds

    Members of our research team started this organization at FSU as a graduate student leadership group.  This is a multi-disciplinary mental health advocacy group that is working towards building bridges between students and student organizations and decreasing the stigma around mental health problems. Additionally, this team is a support resource for the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at FSU, Jaymee Spannring.  This team is working on fundraising for advocacy events, exploring potential grants for increasing mental health services in the area, community outreach, and partnering with other organizations to increase mental health awareness.

    Contactexpand menu

    Dr. Martin Swanbrow Becker, Assistant Professor
    Florida State University College of Education
    Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems
    3210 Stone Building
    1114 West Call Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32306-4301

     

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