Media Advisory

UF experts on suicide prevention and awareness

The following University of Florida researchers representing several disciplines are available to speak to reporters on a range of topics related to suicide prevention and awareness. Links to research papers, commentary and video are included with their bios.



Regina Bussing, chair, UF College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry; professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Clinical and Health Psychology, UF College of Medicine

Research interests: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; quality of care; pharmaco-epidemiology

Bussing, board certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, specializes in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, early childhood intervention for disruptive behavior, and enhanced care and research in the areas of depression, including suicide and suicide prevention.

Contact Rossana Passaniti, media relations coordinator, UF Health, 352-273-8569

Madeline Joseph, chief, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine; assistant chair, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Quality Initiatives; professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, UF College of Medicine

Research interests: Pediatric emergency medicine, disaster medicine

Joseph is among several UF researchers who have received a grant to train community providers in South Florida on the best ways to recognize and treat signs of depression and suicide risk in children and teenagers. The grant was awarded by the American Academy of Pediatrics following the Parkland High shooting in February 2018. Joseph is discussing additional collaborations with the Florida Department of Health to better address pediatric depression by dismantling barriers to screening and care.

News release: UF physicians to train South Florida providers in identifying signs of depression and suicide risk in children and teens

Video: Dr. Madeline Joseph speaks out against gun violence

Contact Rossana Passaniti, media relations coordinator, UF Health, 352-273-8569


Andres Pumariega, professor and chief, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UF College of Medicine

Research interest: Child and adolescent psychiatry

Pumariega has focused during his 40-year career in psychiatry and child/adolescent psychiatry on the stigma associated with mental illness and its role in how mental health resources are funded. He also researches and speaks on the need for mental health professionals to develop better relationships with minority communities to address suicide risk and prevention.

Opinion: Inadequate funding at center of suicide epidemic

Video: Rising suicide rates

Contact Todd Taylor, assistant director of communications, McKnight Brain Institute, 352-294-8735,


Michael Shapiro, assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry, UF College of Medicine; medical director, child and adolescent inpatient unit at UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital; clinical director, UF Health Child Psychiatry at Springhill Health Center

Research interests: Suicide and suicidal behavior, adolescent depression

Shapiro, board certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, specializes in adolescent mood and anxiety disorders and has experience treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behavior disorders and substance use disorders. 

Commentary: Teenage depression – If a parent doesn’t get treatment for a child, is that abuse?

Video: When does parental refusal for treatment constitute neglect?

Contact Todd Taylor, assistant director of communications, McKnight Brain Institute, 352-294-8735,



Heidi Liss Radunovich, associate professor and director, UF Engagement Human Development, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension

Research interests: Family stress, youth risk behavior, college success and academic integrity

Among the areas of programming Radunovich manages are individual and family stress, including disaster stress, stress among military families and stress from chronic illness and disabilities.

Publication: Depression and Older Adults

Video: Focus on research




Dorothy Espelage, professor, Department of Psychology, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Research interests: Youth violence, adolescent sexual harassment, teen dating violence, sexual minority youth, school climate, large-scale evaluations of social-emotional learning and universal suicide programs

Espelage is utilizing a four-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health/NIH, a collaborative project with a team at Northwestern University, to test whether prevention programs that target suicide directly as opposed to those that test a range of factors that increase risk for suicide (internalizing symptoms, alcohol abuse, drug use, externalizing, bullying and interpersonal violence) are more effective in reducing suicide risk for youth in general and whether sexual and gender minority youth benefit more or less from such programs.




April Reich, university research scholar, UF Center for Arts in Medicine

Research interests: Using theater as a communication device to prevent suicide

Reich has authored a study titled “Suicide Prevention through Theater Intervention” using an applied theater workshop in which characters and stories explored suicide topics as a means to prevent suicide. The study aimed to help participants become more comfortable talking about suicide while increasing prevention awareness and peer support.



Jill Sonke, director, Center for Arts in Medicine; assistant director, UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine

Research interests: Arts and health communication, arts and community health, effects of live music on cost and quality of care in emergency medicine

Sonke has more than 20 years of experience in arts and health and is active in research, teaching and international cultural exchange. She runs the Center for Arts in Medicine’s Interdisciplinary Research Lab and has developed arts programs for veterans in partnership with the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center.