Section VII sponsored a highly successful program at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Chicago, August 22-25, 2002. The diverse presenters covered topics of central interest to the section, including suicide, violence, and terrorism. The program emphasized the theme of integrating science and practice in responding to behavioral emergencies.
Dr. Dale McNiels Presidential Address on Evidence-based Assessment of Risk of Violence to Self and Others was well received by a diverse audience of clinicians and academics. Dr. McNiels review of the work being conducted by himself and others generated considerable interest. Dr. McNiel was introduced by Section VIIs Treasurer, Dr. Phil Kleespies of the Boston VA Medical Center.
A highlight of the program was the invited address given by Dr. Ariel Merari on Explaining Suicidal Terrorism: Theories Versus Empirical Evidence. Dr. Merari is Director of the Political Violence Research Unit at Tel Aviv University and former commander of Israels Hostage Negotiations and Crisis Management Unit. Dr. Merari provided attendees with a unique perspective on the problem of suicidal-terrorism, based on his years of practical experience and research. Dr. Meraris presentation will form the basis of a chapter in the upcoming Oxford Book of Psychology and Terrorism.
The Section was honored to sponsor an invited address by Dr. David Clark on Empirical Approaches to the Understanding of Suicide. Dr. Clark is a professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College and director of the Center for Suicide Research and Prevention at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. He is also past president of the American Association of Suicidology. Audience members indicated that they greatly benefited from his presentation on suicide risk assessment and prevention. Dr. Clark was introduced by Dr. Bruce Bongar, President-Elect of Section VII.
The Section also sponsored a symposium on Treating Suicide Risk Factors Among Various Age and Diagnostic Populations which generated much interest and a large audience. Dr. Bruce Bongar of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine introduced a series of studies that explored the relationships among suicide risk factors, demographic variables, diagnostic categories, and common clinical practices. Glenn Sullivan and Eric Crawford of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology presented data on various risk factors for suicide across the diagnostic categories of depression, alcohol dependence, and schizophrenia. Dr. Karin Cleary of the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology and Dr. Lisa Brown of the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital presented data on various suicide risk factors among adolescents and older adults. [A table summarizing these findings can be found in the Spring 2002 issue of Behavioral Emergencies Update.
Many thanks to all of the Section VII members who made this years program such a success. We would also like to acknowledge the support of Larry Beutler, Ph.D., President of APA Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) and John Clizbe, Ph.D., formerly of the American Red Cross. The Section VII program at the 2003 APA Convention in Toronto promises to be our greatest effort yet; details will appear in subsequent issues of this newsletter.