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Simple Things That Save Lives

M. David Rudd has been named dean of University of Utah's College of Social and Behavioral Science

Oct. 1, 2009–“What is hope? Is it a thought? Is it a feeling? How do we know when it’s there and how do we know when it’s not?” asks David Rudd, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science and professor of psychology. “Suicide is more about the absence of hope then the presence of hopelessness.”

Rudd, a clinical suicidology expert and co-author of “The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide” (2009), will deliver this year’s Eric Moerer Memorial Lecture and will address the role hope plays in suicide prevention, followed by a panel who will address the research in relation to suicide across the lifespan from young adults to veterans to aging populations. Community resources will also be available.

Rudd explains that scientific evidence over the last decade in particular has helped us understand the impact of mental illness on not just cognitive functioning, but most importantly on day to day hope in peoples’ lives. “With the advent of MRI we can now locate brain regions that respond to cognitive therapy geared toward generating hope,” he says. “The talk will focus on these issues, including some scientific data, but most importantly what do we know about hope that builds resiliency and saves lives.”

The event, to be held Wednesday, Oct. 7, from 7 until 8:30 p.m., is titled “Finding Hope: Simple Things that Save Lives.” The lecture will be held in the sixth-floor auditorium of Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), 2000Circle of Hope. The event is free and open to the public. Those planning to attend can park at no cost in the parking garage west of HCI.

Panel members include: Doug Gray, MD (Dept. of Psychiatry), Michael Koplin, LCSW, Ph.D. (Veteran’s Administration), Jilene Gunther, MSW, JD (Division of Aging and Adult Services) and Sherri Wittwer, MPA (NAMI Utah).

The Eric Moerer Memorial Lecture Series, sponsored by Tina and Michael Moerer, honors their son Eric, a gifted student who died while still in his teens. The event is co-sponsored by University of Utah Department of Family and Consumer Studies, Psychology Department and NAMI Utah (National Alliance on Mental Illness of Utah). For more information on this year’s lecture, call 801-581-6521.