A world-renowned expert on suicide bereavement and postvention with 20+ years’ experience, Joanne L. Harpel, MPhil, JD, has a nationwide practice providing guidance and support to individuals, families, schools and colleges, faith communities, and workplaces coping with suicide loss; training clinicians, clergy, educators, and other professionals; and developing public awareness initiatives.
Joanne is a former litigation attorney with one of the country’s leading law firms, and the longtime survivor of her own brother's suicide. She was recruited in 2001 by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (the world's largest nonprofit dedicated to the issue) to develop comprehensive capacity relating to the aftermath of suicide. Armed with little more than a dated brochure and a Senate Resolution dedicating a day to survivors of suicide loss, she went on to create the most well-respected, far-reaching array of programs and resources in the field, including: International Survivors of Suicide Day, which now takes place annually in 300 cities on 6 continents; a toolkit utilized by schools across the country facing real-time crises; a primer explaining suicide to children; and clinical education, public education, support group facilitator training, and outreach programs.
The recipient of the American Association of Suicidology's Survivor of the Year Award and founding co-lead of SAMHSA's National Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force, she currently serves on advisory committees to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, United Suicide Survivors International, and Anonymous Alerts; and is a member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling.
Joanne is a seasoned guest lecturer, trainer, and media spokesperson, including at the United Nations, on Capitol Hill, and for the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, International Association for Suicide Prevention, and Bereaved Parents of the USA. She's trained the Veterans Administration's chaplains, the psychologists affiliated with the South Korea National Police Agency, the crisis response team of a major public university, and mental health professionals throughout the United States. She has been a featured speaker for the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (a UN-affiliated NGO), the New York State School Boards Association, and the Suicide Prevention Coalitions of Colorado and Wyoming. She has collaborated with organizations ranging from the NIMH, WHO, Columbia University Schools of Social Work and Journalism, and the University of Melbourne, to HBO and Sesame Street.
A cum laude graduate of Amherst College, she also holds graduate degrees from Cambridge University and the New York University School of Law.