Voices of Hope — AFSP

Voices of Hope

Voices of Hope is AFSP’s series of videos featuring those who have struggled with suicide: unscripted interviews with people speaking from their own personal experience. Watch the entire playlist above or see and share individual videos below. For more information about the videos’ participants, check out their bios below.

Series Participants

Christine Moutier, M.D. (New York, NY)

Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, knows the impact of suicide firsthand. After losing colleagues to suicide, she dedicated herself to fighting this leading cause of death. As a leader in the field of suicide prevention, Dr. Moutier joined AFSP in 2013, and has revitalized AFSP’s Education team, re-launched its Loss & Healing department, and expanded AFSP’s support to include those with lived experience of suicide.

Dr. Moutier has testified before the U.S. Congress on suicide prevention, she was the host of AFSP’s latest documentary on surviving suicide loss, The Journey, and has appeared as an expert in The New York TimesThe Washington PostTime magazine, The EconomistThe Atlantic, the BBC,CNN, and other print and television outlets.

Read more about Dr. Moutier.


Taryn Aiken (Pleasant Grove, UT)

Taryn is a founding member of the Utah Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She is a survivor of her own attempts as well as a survivor of suicide loss, losing her father Terry Aiken on October 5, 2002. As a dedicated volunteer for the past 11 years, she shares her story and passion to give hope and educate our communities about suicide. She is a certified safeTALK, CONNECT Postvention Trainer, and Mental Health First Aid Trainer, facilitating hundreds of seminars to many different groups, and sharing tools to help build resiliency in our communities. Taryn has been a cosmetologist for the past 20 years, spending most of her time as an educator for Paul Mitchell. She now dedicates her time in the schools to sharing Suicide Prevention and education. Taryn is currently a full time student at Utah Valley University, pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue her Master’s in Social Work.

Steven and Cindi Blackwood (Little Rock, AR)

Steven and Cindi lost their son, Alex, to suicide in 2008 at age 19.  Steven immediately became involved in suicide prevention and awareness efforts with AFSP, as well as various other organizations. Steven serves as the co-chair of the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Council in 2015. Cindi serves as a member of the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Council, and is a volunteer with AFSP. In 2009, Steven, Cindi, and their daughter Ariel formed the Alex Blackwood Foundation for HOPE, from which Camp Alex, a summer camp experience for kids who have lost someone to suicide, was founded in 2013. Steven and Cindi are nationally recognized real estate and mortgage finance experts. Steven hosts the real estate-themed podcast Beyond the Box.

Jessica Caudle (Mansfield, TX)

Jessica is committed to opening the conversation about mental illness and suicide through the sharing of her own story. She has been an active participant and volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention since 2013. Jessica joined AFSP’s North Texas Chapter Board of Directors in 2015, and will serve as the Chairperson for the 2016 Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Dallas. Through regular speaking engagements, she inspires others to step out of their own comfort zones, end their silence, and find their own voices. A 2015 graduate of Tarrant County College’s Surgical Technology program, she works at Harris Methodist hospital in Fort Worth, TX.  She is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.

Christopher Epperson (Little Rock, AR)

Christopher serves as the Board Chair for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Arkansas Chapter. After his own personal struggles with suicide in high school and the loss of several close personal friends over the years, Christopher has found a voice and platform while volunteering with AFSP over the last four years. A native Texan who attended the University of Texas at Tyler (Psychology) and the Ogle School of hair design in Dallas, Texas, he has served as Youth Pastor at Bethel Bible Church from 1990 to 1994, and opened the Adam Kent Salon in 1997.

Eric Hipple (Fenton, MI)

Eric is a former National Football League (NFL) quarterback whose ten year career was spent with the Detroit Lions. From 1995-2000, Hipple was a color analyst for the FOX NFL pre-game show in Detroit. In 2000 Eric’s son Jeff became a victim of suicide as a result of depression. In 2008, Hipple authored the award winning book, Real Men Do Cry, which chronicles his personal journey with depression. Hipple recently received the prestigious 2008 Lifetime Achievement award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as a presidential citation at the American Psychological Association’s 2006 Annual Convention for his six years of national community-based work combating adolescent depression and suicide prevention. Hipple currently serves as outreach coordinator at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center.

Gregg Loomis (Tuckahoe, NY)

Gregg is a husband, father of two boys, son, brother-in-law, and uncle. He has been an Allstate insurance agent serving Westchester for 30 years. He also lives with bipolar illness, and is a survivor of a suicide attempt. Gregg joined the Board of the Westchester Chapter of AFSP in 2014, after attending several of the chapter’s events such as the Hike for Hope and the Westchester Out of the Darkness Community Walk. After attending these events, Gregg was inspired to re-dedicate his life to helping others who struggle with mental illness to rise above the stigma and seek the help they need. He has adopted as his personal motto: “Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse; it eliminates the possibility of life getting any better.”

Brandon Marsico (Red Lion, PA)

Brandon is a passionate advocate, volunteer, and Co-Chair and Founder of the South Central PA Chapter of AFSP. A suicide attempt survivor, he has devoted his life to preventing suicide. He was instrumental in the passing of PA HB 1559/Act 71, which requires Pennsylvania schools to adopt youth suicide awareness and prevention policies, and provide ongoing professional development for professional educators serving students from grades six through 12. Brandon is a National Accounts Case Manager for BB&T Life Insurance Services, and has served many roles in the Customer Service industry, which has afforded him the opportunity to share his story with hundreds of colleagues and clients.

Tanya Phillips (North Little Rock, AR)

Tanya serves on the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Network’s leadership team, a network she co-founded in 2009, and on the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Council as a Governor appointed representative for Veterans. She formerly served as a Military Intelligence Officer in the Armed Forces, and as the State Suicide Prevention Program Manager for the Arkansas National Guard.  Tanya holds an M.A. of Education and an M.S. in Health Sciences. She teaches health and wellness classes part-time at a local university, and volunteers approximately 30-40 hours a week working to prevent suicide in Arkansas.

Shelby Rowe, M.B.A. (Oklahoma City, OK)

Shelby is the Youth Suicide Prevention Project Director at Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the mother of three sons. A public health professional, crisis intervention expert and suicide attempt survivor, she has been a leader in the suicide prevention movement since 2007 at the local, state, and national level.  Shelby is a member of the Consumer/Survivor Committee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network. She has served on the board of directors for the National Association of Crisis Center Directors, and was a member of the Arkansas Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council. A proud member of the Chickasaw Nation, she holds a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy, and an M.B.A.

Rick Strait (Farmington, MO)

Rick is the Integrated Dual Disorders Program Manager for Community Counseling Center in Southeast Missouri. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in Missouri. He also works as an adjunct instructor at Central Methodist University. He is on the board of the Eastern Missouri Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A suicide attempt survivor who has dedicated his life to providing education and awareness to prevent suicide and help those who have been impacted by suicide, Rick provides the following trainings: Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Question Persuade Refer, and Talk Saves Lives. He is on the planning committee for the Missouri statewide suicide prevention conference. He is a co-author of The i’Mpossible Project: Reengaging with Life, Creating a New You, in which he shares lessons he has learned from his suicide attempt. He has a Master’s in Clinical Counseling from Central Methodist University.

David A. Threatt (Oklahoma City, OK)

David is the Co-Chair for the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He is a suicide attempt survivor who has now dedicated his life to giving hope to others dealing with depression. In 2016, David self-published his memoir, And Then I Woke Up: From Suicide to Success, in which he chronicles his battles with depression, the events leading up to his attempt, and his recovery process. He has been appointed by state legislature to the Oklahoma State Suicide Prevention Counsel, and in 2015 was the recipient of the Communication Achievement Award by the Let’s Talk 4884 Toastmasters Club. He is now a sought after motivational speaker for suicide prevention and mental health in his community. David is a proud father, and an entrepreneur, owning his own barber shop and hair salon, The Hair Café, since 1999.