Chair of Escorosa Suicide Prevention Coalition
Rachelle S. Burns, M.A. has been involved with suicide prevention since 2012, when Pensacola State College (PSC) received a Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant and she became the Activities Coordinator. For the duration of the GLS Grant, Rachelle received extensive training in suicide prevention and implemented mental health and suicide prevention programming at PSC, using a public health model, including becoming a lead trainer for PSC’s Campus Connect Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training and for the program’s Train the Trainer seminar.
While working in suicide prevention for PSC, Rachelle became involved in suicide prevention at the state level and in 2014 became the Region 1 Director for the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, covering Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties. During that time, she also became a Field Advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and has since participated in many advocacy efforts at the state and national levels on issues related to mental health and suicide prevention, including the annual Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol, talking regularly with state legislators about the importance of laws promoting access to and inclusive use of mental health services for citizens of the State of Florida.
It became increasingly evident to Rachelle that there was a need for a local suicide prevention effort and in 2017, with the support of PSC, she founded the EscaRosa Suicide Prevention Coalition, which brought together stakeholders from our community’s law enforcement, healthcare, education, mental health and military/veteran fields, as well as involving individuals and organizations who were faith-based, working with community youth, representing LGBTQ+ and those with lived experience. The Coalition has helped to coordinate mental health trainings, introduce a panhandle keyword partnership with the national Crisis Text Line, initiate loss and attempt survivor support groups and increase awareness of the importance of suicide prevention for our community. In order to further the work of the Coalition, it was recently incorporated as a registered non-profit in Florida and is in the process of applying for 501©3 status.
Rachelle still works full-time for PSC, as the Director for TRIO-Student Support Services, a federally funded college student success program for first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities. She is married to Patrick Burns, a former detective with the Pensacola Police Department (now a registered intern therapist working towards licensure in FL) and together they also run Caim Coaching, a training company for first-responders and their spouses to help them improve their lives, through addressing issues related to money, marriage and mental health.