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  • Suicide Prevention Research Team

    Research Group

     

    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.

    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, 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!

    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.

    Brandon Cooper, B.A.
    Brandon T. Cooper (“Coop”) is a 2nd year master’s student at Florida State University in Sport, Performance, and Exercise Psychology. 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. His research interests include mindfulness, injury and pain, stress, deviance, and performance enhancement. His plans are to further his education and experience in FSU’s Combined doctoral program in Counseling Psychology and School Psychology next year. In addition to his schoolwork, Coop is involved in FSU’s Sport Psychology Organization and Research Team (SPORT) and FSU’s Active Minds organization. He enjoys his work in FSU student academic services, mentoring Seminole student athletes. In his free time, Coop enjoys watching sports of all kinds and lifting weights.

    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.

    Kelly RomanoKelly Romano, B.A.
    Kelly received her BA from the University of Connecticut in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) and English language. She is currently a graduate student in the Mental Health Counseling M.S./Ed.S. program at Florida State University. Her primary research interest includes elucidating various factors that impact the etiology and maintenance of eating and substance use disorders, with particular focus on the role of positive psychological variables in these interactions. Additional interests include assessing protective factors that stand to decrease the likelihood that undergoing difficult experiences will augment one’s level of distress and subsequently translate into suicidal behavior.

    Sam BrennerSamantha Brenner, B.S.
    Samantha earned her Bachelor of Science degree in May 2015 from the College of Charleston in South Carolina. During her senior year, she completed a Bachelor’s Essay in Applied Behavior Analysis. Samantha is now a student in the Mental Health Counseling Master of Science/Education Specialist program at Florida State University. Her research interests include suicide prevention, PTSD in the military population, anxiety, eating disorders, and applied behavior analysis as it relates to autism spectrum disorders. Some hobbies include traveling, photography, and horseback riding! Upon graduating from the program, Samantha plans on returning to South Carolina to work with veterans and military families.

    Trisha de la RivaherreraTrisha de la Rivaherrera, B.S.
    Trisha earned her B.S in Psychology from Florida State and is currently a mental health counseling master’s student. Her research interests include suicide intervention and prevention, personality disorders in adults, as well as health and wellness initiatives. In her free time, Trisha enjoys teaching a variety of group exercise classes at FSU.

     

     

     

    RESEARCH TEAM ALUMNI:

    Tyler BranaganTyler Branagan, M.S., Ed.S.
    Tyler is a doctoral candidate in Combined Counseling and School Psychology Psychology at Florida State University. Currently, he is completing his doctoral internship at the University of Virginia, Counseling and Psychological Services Center. He will be completing his post-doctoral residency at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services in their Counselor-in-Residence position. His primary research interest is how university counseling centers reduce suicidality and improve help-seeking on their campuses. 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.

    Research Publicationsexpand menu

    Romano, K., Colgary, C., Swanbrow Becker, M., Magnusion, A., & Fisher, H. (submitted). Prevention of Shape and Weight Concerns among College Students: An Examination of Education Status Variables. Body Image. Manuscript submitted for publication, 36 pages.

    Warner, A., Swanbrow Becker, M., & Dong, S. (submitted). Mindfulness as a Protective Factor for the Relationship Between Self-injury and Suicide. Archives of Suicide Research. Manuscript submitted for publication, 26 pages.

    Swanbrow Becker, M., Branagan, W. T., McLean, K. E., Nemeth Roberts, S. F., Mackintosh, R. C., & Myrick, C. (submitted). Working Together: How to engage a campus in suicide prevention. The Journal of College and University Student Housing. Manuscript submitted for publication, 26 pages.

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

    Warner, A., Swanbrow Becker, M. A., & Hanley, A. (submitted). A Relational Model for Dispositional Mindfulness, Substance Use, and Suicidality. Manuscript submitted for publication, 1-28 pages.

    Branagan, W. T., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (submitted). Therapist Attributes and Homework Completion. Manuscript submitted for publication, 1-26 pages.

    Thomas, C., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (in press). 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 Training, 28 pages.

    McLean, K., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (in press). Bridging the Gap: Connecting RAs and Suicidal Residents Through Gatekeeper Training. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 20 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.

    Canto, A., Swanbrow Becker, M. A., Cox, B., Hayden, S., & Osborn, D. (in press). College students in crisis: Identification, response options, and prevention for residence life professionals. Journal of College and University Student Housing, 1-13 pages.

    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 Psychotherapy, 1-22. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/87568225.2016.1253441 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 Training, 9(1), 27-28.

     

    Conference Presentations expand menu

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

    APA 2015

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

     

    AAS 2015

    American Association for Suicidology (AAS) Annual Convention, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia

     

    AAS 2015 3

    American Association for Suicidology (AAS) Annual Convention, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia

     

    American Association for Suicidology (AAS) Annual Convention, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia

    American Association for Suicidology (AAS) Annual Convention, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia

     

    American Psychological Association 2014 annual conference

    American Psychological Association 2014 annual conference

     

    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

     

    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)

    Melo, K., Swanbrow Becker, M., Blankenship, A. P., Spencer, K., Thomas, C., McLean, K. E., (2016, March). Assessing the effectiveness of gatekeeper training in preparing resident assistants to identify and intervene with suicidal residents through focus group feedback. Presentation at the 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)

    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)

    Myrick, C., Kleuver, S., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (accepted). Partnering for Suicide Prevention: Impact of Experiential RA Training. Presentation to be given at Annual Conference, Association of College and University Housing Officers – International, Providence, RI. (National)

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

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

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

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

    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., (Accepted for 2016, August). Traumatic brain injuries and special education services in the schools. Poster presentation at American Psychological Association (APA), Annual convention, Denver, CO. (International)

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

    Thomas, C., & Swanbrow Becker, M. (2015, August). Suicide prevention gatekeeper training for resident assistants: A between groups control design study. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention, Toronto, Canada. (International)

    Ritts, S.M., Swanbrow Becker, M., & Freeman V.F.  (2015, August). The Impact of Social Perception on Student Stress and Coping. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Ontario (International)

    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)

    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 the Annual Conference, American Association of Suicidology, Atlanta, GA. (National)

    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 American Association of Suicidology (AAS) Conference, 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)

    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)

    Nemeth, S., Swanbrow Becker, M., Branagan, T., Warner, A., Ritts, S., & Clark, S.L. (2014, August). Supporting Transgender College Students: Implications for Clinical Intervention and Campus Prevention. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC (National)

    Swanbrow Becker, M. A., Nemeth, S. F., Branagan, W. T., Ritts, S. M., & Clark, S. L. (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., 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., Swanbrow Becker, M., Branagan, T., Warner, A., Ritts, S., & Clark, S.L (2014, March). Supporting Transgender College Students: Implications for Clinical Intervention and Campus Prevention. Symposium conducted at the meeting of Trans*Literature, New York City, NY (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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