We will discuss the long and sometimes arduous journey we took in moving a Peer Suicide Attempt Survivor Support Group from conception to fruition. Clinicians and suicide attempt survivors developed this model to provide a stigma-free venue for individuals who survived a suicide attempt to share thoughts and feelings and to give and receive support. Understanding the importance of analyzing an idea or program from all angles is a critical step in getting a program off the ground. Participants will leave with an outline of the process we underwent to get this program started and the lessons we learned.

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will:

•Identify the components of a safe and effective peer attempt survivor support group for persons diagnosed with an SMI.

• Describe the research and philosophy surrounding the promotion of an attempt survivor peer support group.

• Recognize the important role that peers play in psychiatric recovery.

• Explain the importance of suicide attempt survivors in reducing stigma and preventing suicide.


Gabriella Guerra

Gabriella Guerra is the Senior Director of Clinical Care for Adult Services at Magellan of Arizona. Magellan manages a publicly-funded behavioral health care delivery system for Medicaid, non-Medicaid and Title XXI (KidsCare)-eligible residents in Maricopa County. Through a system of provider network organizations, Magellan of Arizona serves over 80,000 recipients as well as their family members through a wide range of services from crisis assistance to housing programs to children's services and substance abuse treatment.

Gabriella has more than 18 years of clinical and administrative experience in the non-profit, government and public behavioral health arenas. She extensive experience working with the provider community, implementing system initiatives and developing and evaluating programs using evidence-based guidelines. She has spent more than seven years in Arizona, gaining an in-depth knowledge of public health systems. Gabriella is passionate about creating effective prevention and treatment programs and about the opportunity to design and plan programs that increase the quality of life for their participants. Gabriella’s areas of expertise and interest include:

Katie Ayotte

Katie Ayotte serves on the Magellan Governance Board as a Representative of Adult Service recipients since 2008. Ms. Ayotte regularly speaks and presents to behavioral health organizations, at conferences and to individuals who are currently undergoing care within the system to share her personal story and currently sits on the committees that will develop new support systems for people who have survived an attempted suicide.

Larry Villano

Larry Villano, LPC, LISAC is the Vice President of Crisis and Prevention Services at TERROS, Inc. He has been in the behavioral health field for 14 years and has worked both on the for profit and not for profit sides. He holds masters degrees from both Indiana University and the University of Phoenix. Larry has worked at both the managed care and direct care provider level.

Patti Ritchie-Williams

Patti Ritchie-Williams, BSW is the Director, Network Management and Operations Responsible at the Crisis Response Network. Patti has worked in social services for over 16 years in a variety of capacities within the child welfare and behavioral health arenas utilizing strength-based client centered approaches to empower and promote increased self-sufficiencies, skill development, and quality of life for those she serves. Areas of expertise include: Domestic Violence, Child Welfare, Independent Living Skill Development and Education, Program Development, Training, Monitoring and Evaluation, Behavioral Health, Collaboration.