I was a practicing attorney when my brother took his own life. There was no internet then, so I went to Barnes and Noble and bought every book I could find with the word "suicide" in the title. In the back of those books there was always a list of suicide prevention organizations, and I cold-called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (the world's largest nonprofit dedicated to the issue) and offered to volunteer. In 1997, they invited me to join their national board of directors, and subsequently  recruited me to their senior management team to create a new department devoted to those who, like me, had lost someone they loved to suicide.

Armed with little more than a dated brochure and a Senate Resolution designating the Saturday

before Thanksgiving as National Survivor Day, I created International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, an annual event that takes place in 400 cities around the world.  I also developed the most comprehensive and far-reaching array of programs and resources in the field, including a toolkit utilized by schools across the country facing real-time crises, a primer explaining suicide to children, and national support group facilitator training and outreach programs that have impacted tens of thousands of people. 


After many years as AFSP's Senior Director for Public Affairs and Postvention, I realized I needed a deeper, more personal connection to both the issue and the people I wanted to help than was possible within a large organization. So I created Coping After Suicide  ,  a private practice offering guidance and support to individuals and families, as well as schools and colleges, faith communities, and workplaces across the country.


In addition, I conduct professional education on suicide bereavement and postvention for mental health clinicians, health care professionals, clergy, funeral directors, and educators, including the chaplains of the U.S. Army and Veterans Administration, the psychologists affiliated with the South Korea National Police Agency, the crisis response team of a major public university, and the psychiatry and social work departments of an inner city community hospital system.

I'm also a frequent featured speaker, 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, Bereaved Parents of the USA, New York State School Boards and Funeral Directors Associations, and the Suicide Prevention Coalitions of Colorado and Wyoming, among many others. I've 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.

In 2014, in loving memory of my brother, I also launched Rethink The Conversation  , a nonprofit that develops unique programs that shift perspective on issues such as suicide and mental illness that have been tinged by stigma, misinformation, lack of attention, or indifference.



Professional associations
  • Founding co-lead of SAMHSA's National Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force, whose work culminated in the creation of national guidelines on Responding to Grief, Trauma, & Distress After a Suicide

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Co-chair, Individual and Family Lived Experience Committee and member, national Steering Committee

  • Professional Career Suicidologist with the American Association of Suicidology. Recipient of their Survivor of the Year Award, and member of their Survivor Task Force, Workplace Committee, and Impacted Family and Friends Division

  • Association for Death Education and Counseling, professional member

  • National Alliance for Grieving Children, professional member

  • Amherst College, BA, cum laude

  • Cambridge University, MPhil

  • NYU School of Law, JD

  • London School of Economics

Contact Me


Coping After Suicide

45 w 54th street, suite 3c

New York, NY 10019



Coping After Suicide, LLC (and Joanne L. Harpel, MPhil., JD, President) serve solely as a suicide bereavement and postvention advisor/coach and are not licensed mental health professionals. Advice provided is not intended to constitute therapy or mental health counseling, and shall not be so construed.  Responsibility for seeking psychological counseling and/or medical advice rests solely with the user. Coping After Suicide, LLC and Joanne L. Harpel, President, are not governed by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  


If at any time you are in crisis and/or feeling suicidal call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at  800-273-TALK or 911, text “HELP” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go the nearest emergency room.

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