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.

With my brother Stephen, 1972

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 the issue and the people I wanted to help. I wanted to create the kind of support that I wish had been available when I felt most lost and alone. So I created Coping After Suicide,   offering guidance and support to individuals and families, as well as schools and colleges, faith communities, and workplaces across the country.


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've been a featured speaker on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations,  Visa, Inc., the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the Northern Ireland National Health Service, the New York State Funeral Directors Association, and the New York State School Boards Association. And I've  collaborated with dozens of organizations including the NIMH and WHO, the Columbia University Schools of Social Work and Journalism, the University of Melbourne, HBO, and Sesame Street.

In 2014, I 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.

At Stephen's graduation from Yale, 1988

Professional associations
  • American Association of Suicidology. Survivor of the Year Award. Professional Career Suicidologist. Member, Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force, Clinician-Survivor Task Force, Loss Division, and Workplace Committee

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Former longtime Senior Director for Public Affairs and Postvention. Former member, national board of directors.

  • National Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force (National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, SAMHSA). Founding co-lead. Contributor, “Responding to Grief, Trauma, & Distress After a Suicide”

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Co-chair, Lived Experience Committee

  • Rethink The Conversation. President, CEO, and Founder

  • Advisor, Anonymous Alerts, Facebook, Grief Coach, Grief Anonymous, and Grief Resource Network

  • Consultant, New York State Funeral Directors Association, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and United HealthCare

  • Professional Member, Association for Death Education and Counseling, Hospice Foundation of America, and National Alliance for Grieving Children

  • Amherst College, BA, cum laude

  • Cambridge University, MPhil

  • NYU School of Law, JD

  • London School of Economics

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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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