Kevin’s Song: Local advocates speaking at suicide awareness conference

Local advocates to be guest speakers at suicide awareness conference

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KnowResolve founder Dennis Liegghio, far right, enjoys a musical moment with members of the Shed’s teen council. Liegghio will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference on suicide Jan. 23-25 in Plymouth.

Kevin’s Song will be hosting its annual “Conference on Suicide: Advocacy in Action” at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Jan. 23-25.

The three-day event put on by the nonprofit founded in memory of Kevin Urso and dedicated to empowering communities to prevent suicide and offer hope to healing survivors is open to the general public and everyone from first responders and teachers to students, policy makers, veterans and support groups, loss survivors and attempted survivors. Also part of the conference on Thursday is a school summit tailored for teachers and others involved in schools.

This year’s keynote speaker is United States Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who organizers describe as a distinguished champion for mental health advocacy. Dingell’s address on Friday will focus on community, business and governmental support for improved access to mental health care and for suicide prevention and education.

Taking part in the conference will be several speakers from Macomb County including Dennis Liegghio, founder of KnowResolve, who was 14-years-old when he lost his father to suicide. Being their last words as father and teenage son were in anger, he blamed himself for his dad’s death and struggled with his own depression and thoughts of suicide before reaching a turning point that inspired him to write a song about his experience. It led to his healing and eventually the creation of KnowResolve, a nonprofit that supports area youth.

The Macomb Intermediate School District will have several people making presentations.

Nancy Buyle, a school safety assistance consultant and psychotherapist for MISD will be speaking about bullying; Stephanie Lange, student assistance specialist at Dakota High School in Macomb Township will discuss programs aimed at enhancing mental health and suicide prevention being used in schools. MISD school counselor Catherine Livingstone, along with David Ersig, Henry Ford II assistant principal, will speak about supporting students’ mental health in school.

Utica Mayor Thomas Dionne, who works as a public safety officer for the city of Grosse Pointe Farms, will be among the speakers during Saturday’s Survivor Day.

Officer Dionne saw a 24-year-old man from Sterling Heights parked in the driveway at Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms and was able to get him to a safe place, saving his life.

Organizers said the objective for the conference is to teach participants specific preventative and evidence-based practices that have the greatest measurable impact on saving lives. Tickets can be purchased for the entire conference or for individual days.

The Inn at St. John’s is at 44045 Five Mile Road in Plymouth. For a full schedule and more information visit

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