Renowned suicide expert to visit campus for public talk, student interaction

Although this is the first year of Western Carolina University’s Doctor of Psychology Program, its students are already receiving some high-quality training.

Adding to the training will be a visit from Thomas E. Joiner Jr., who is a leading expert on the scientific and clinical study of suicidal behaviors. Joiner will speak at the Blue Ridge Hall conference room at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6. His talk, “Why People Die By Suicide,” is free and open to the public.

“As WCU launches its new doctor of psychology program this year, we enter a new era in which we now have the possibility of producing highly-trained mental health professionals with a much greater likelihood of remaining in Western North Carolina,” said David McCord, professor of psychology. “Bringing to campus a world-class expert in this key area of mental health will contribute meaningfully to state-of-the-art training for our first cohort of doctoral students and will highlight for those in this broad region the ambitious goals of the program.”

Thomas E. Joiner Jr.

Joiner is the Robert O. Lawton Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, where he operates his Laboratory for the Study of the Psychology and Neurobiology of Mood Disorders, Suicide and Related Conditions.

In addition to his talk, Joiner will meet with psychology undergraduate and graduate students on Thursday, Nov. 7. He will visit WCU’s clinic and research labs, where suicide-related research is ongoing. McCord said Joiner is collaborating on several WCU projects and has agreed to serve on the dissertation committee of one of the doctor of psychology students.

“Our original goal for this visit was to provide our graduate students in clinical and school psychology a meaningful educational experience with this foremost authority on suicide,” McCord said. “He will have a two-hour discussion session with our students, all of whom have been reading Dr. Joiner’s research reports in anticipation of this visit. He has generously agreed to give a one-hour presentation of his own empirical research at FSU, suitable for undergraduate students, as well as graduate students and faculty.”

Joiner’s visit is sponsored by the Department of Psychology, the College of Education and Allied Professions, the Center for the Study of Free Enterprise, and the Office of the Provost. For more information, contact McCord at 828-227-3363.