MHAMD is pleased to announce Sue Klebold will serve as the keynote presenter for our 2019 Legislative Briefing & Reception. Below, you can find more information about Sue. To register for this year’s event, which takes place on February 5, 2019, please go here. 

Update: Hear Sue tell her story in this NPR interview. 

This year’s Legislative Briefing explores an issue that is among the most challenging for the mental health community. Collectively and individually we have all been forced to come to grips with a growing number of senseless and tragic incidents in the world around us. We know that individuals living with mental illness are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent acts, yet it is also true that mental illness does play a role alongside domestic violence, substance use and other key indicators that predispose individuals to violence.

In a country that highly values civil liberties along with their associated risks, the brokering of solutions is challenging. We are proud of the balanced legislation the Maryland General Assembly enacted in 2018 to reduce gun violence and suicide by firearm, and increase safety in our schools. We look forward to the successful implementation of broad-based recommendations of the Kirwan Commission to support youth, including improved early identification of mental illness and expanded access to effective care when needs are identified.

Sue Klebold, our keynote presenter, is among the parents whose anguish most of us will never know. Not only did she lose her son Dylan, who was one of the individuals who carried out the Columbine school shooting nearly 20 years ago, but as a parent survivor she bears the overwhelming guilt resulting from this senseless loss of life in her ordinary suburban community. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Sue remained out of the public eye while struggling with devastating grief and humiliation. Her search for understanding would span over fifteen years, during which she volunteered for suicide prevention organizations, questioned experts, talked with fellow survivors of loss, and examined the crucial intersection between mental health and violence.

After many years of reflection, Sue has chosen to come forward, despite the personal difficulty in doing so. She emerged a passionate advocate, dedicated to the advancement of mental health awareness, research and suicide prevention. Her experience can help us as we work together to build strong communities and effective solutions for all youth in Maryland.

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