March 18, 2019


photo collage of speakers at the suicide lecture series

MSU Billings faculty to shed light on suicide

Suicide in Eastern Montana lecture series to be held April 5



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266

MSU BILLINGS NEWS—On Friday, April 5,several Montana State University Billings faculty and research professionals will participate in a day-long lecture series highlighting suicide in Eastern Montana.

Speakers will present their latest research in collaboration with Montana Social Scientists, an organization aimed at providing continuing education (CE) for Montana counselors licensed by Montana’s Board of Behavioral Health (BBH) and Montana educators licensed by Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI). 

This spring symposium is held at the First Congregational Church and will include a variety of presentation styles and platforms.

The featured speaker for the event is Professor of Communication at MSU Billings and investigator for Let’s Talk Suicide Prevention Program Dr. Sarah N. Keller. She was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health for her article, “A Look at Culture and Stigma of Suicide: Textual Analysis of Community Theatre Performances.”

Vanessa McNeill, M.S., Adjunct Professor of Psychology at MSU Billings will open the series. In addition to teaching at MSUB, McNeill is the owner of a new startup company, Montana Social Scientists. She has dedicated herself to the Let’s Talk project as a Suicide Prevention Researcher since 2014, coauthoring and presenting with Keller and others. She is proudly committed to learning and teaching about suicide in Montana.

Melanie Reaves, MSU Billings Assistant Professor of Education Theory and Practice will present applied techniques for “creative deep processing” and “creative self-care strategies.”

Dana West, MSU Billings Assistant Professor of Education Theory and Practice will share her research at 10 a.m. West will use her over 30 years of suicide prevention experience and counseling in schools to inform listeners about what she has discovered about suicide in today’s youth.

Darla Tyler-McSherry, M.S., Director of MSUB Student Health Services and visionary behind Ask in Earnest, an initiative dedicated to suicide prevention for Montana’s agricultural community—ranchers and farmers, presents at 2 p.m.

Several Let’s Talk Billings members will present and show a variety of documentaries, each followed by active discussions. Let’s Talk is a youth theatre project for suicide prevention based in Miles City and Billings, originated by the Global Health Equity Foundation.

Following lunch, Adjunct Professor of Theater at MSUB Patrick Scott-Wilson will present. Wilson is the Head Director for Let’s Talk and Co-Founder of Sacrifice Cliff Theatre Company. 

Featured Speaker Dr. Sarah N. Keller will present at 1:30 p.m. Her ongoing research focuses on examining the use of mass media to change attitudes and promote health behavior on a variety of public health topics, including suicide.

Michelle Lamberson, MS, MSUB Adjunct Professor of Communication will be the final faculty member to present. Lamberson is the owner of MI Consulting Inc.

Cost to attend the symposium is $225, and attendees receive nine continuing education(CE) credits and a certificate of completion for their participation at the conclusion of the event. Lunch, catered by Mitzi Racine, is included in the registration fee. Those interested in attending can register here. Attendees are encouraged to check in at 9 a.m. and begin preparation for the day’s activities.

Additional trainings are planned for May 9-11, 2019 in Kwatuqnuk, Mont.

For more information about the lecture series, visit Montana Social Scientists or email

»»  Download lecture series flyer