About Barb Smith

Barb Smith

Founder Barb Smith has spent nearly three decades saving lives from suicide and supporting those left in its wake. After a personal tragedy of her brother John’s suicide, Barb founded the grassroots organization and has grown it into an impactful non-profit providing services in prevention, education, and aftercare throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond.

When prevention is not possible, Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network supports those who have lost a loved one by suicide, at no charge, on a 24/7 basis.

Along the way, Barb has trained and certified with nationally-recognized experts, building a level of knowledge and expertise unmatched by anyone or any organization in the area. She has made it her mission to make our communities safer, raising awareness about the prevalence of suicide, by speaking to more than 70,000 people nationally on the warning signs and risk factors of suicide.

Because she has pioneered several initiatives and has relentlessly opened up the conversation about suicide in the community, she continues to be sought out as a consultant to a growing number of varied organizations, including hospital emergency rooms, police departments, medical schools, funeral homes, and more.

Here is a glimpse at her impact:

  • Raising awareness of suicide among middle- and high-schoolers at more than 50 area schools, providing youth and teens with 1) tools to recognize other youth who may be at risk for suicide, and 2) simple, yet effective steps to respond if they are concerned
  • Decreasing the suicide rate by training first responders and health professionals in safeTALK (Suicide Alertness for Everyone) and ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) – both  “best-practice” programs by LivingWorks – so that the hopeless are identified early and connected to the life-saving resources they need
  • Decreasing suicides in high-risk industries like farming by collaborating with Farm Bureau District #8 with safeTALK trainings
  • Changing the way the next generation of health care providers and mental health professionals learn about suicide by collaborating with Central Michigan University College of Medicine and Saginaw Valley State University School of Nursing to integrate health and behavioral health
  • Piloting best practices such as “Talk Today, Hope for Tomorrow” – the first mental health awareness night for the Saginaw Spirit, now a model for other OHL hockey teams
  • Educating funeral homes to work with the bereaved to help prevent future deaths from suicide
  • Responding to those in need through the 989-781-5620 help line, a 24/7, 365 free service
  • Coordinating with law enforcement on death notifications and training to provide better support to families on scene, minimizing additional trauma
  • Fighting to reduce the stigma of suicide and supporting families and friends left behind through special events like the Walk for Hope
  • Building a community of understanding by offering nationally recognized suicide experts through special events like the Hope Starts Here
  • Hosting special local and statewide event, bringing in national experts in the field of suicide to reach both professionals and non-professionals in the region
  • Authoring a short story in i’MPOSSIBLE project book with Josh Rivedal titled “Pain With a Purpose”


Other credentials include:

  • 2016 Community Award from the Student Government Association at Northwood University for nurturing the student body within the Midland, MI community
  • 2013 Hero Award for America & Me for the state of MI, submitted by a youth who was impacted by Barb’s working with her family in the aftermath of a family suicide
  • Master Trainer of the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainer) through LivingWorks
  • Registered trainer for SafeTalk (suicide alertness for everyone) through LivingWorks
  • Past member, Survivor Council for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Past provisional trainer for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Outreach Program
  • Past vice-president/board member of Michigan Association of Suicidology
  • Member/leader of Saginaw County Sheriff Dept. Victims Advocate Team, assisting police in delivering death notifications and working with families immediately following a tragedy
  • Co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Bay County Michigan, participated in writing and implementing the Bay County Suicide Prevention plan
  • Past member, Saginaw County Suicide Prevention Coalition, participated in the writing and implementation of the Saginaw County Suicide Prevention Plan
  • Yellow Ribbon coordinator in Bay County, coordinating Yellow Ribbon week and monthly activities for up to 5,000 students with messages of hope and suicide prevention
  • Training and certifications from numerous experts in the field of suicide prevention, intervention and the aftermath of suicide, including Bill Steele, Iris Bolton, Michael Nerney, AFSP, AAS, SPRC, LivingWorks, Yellow Ribbon International and many others
  • Chaired or co-chaired more than 40 one- and two-day conferences, guest speakers, and workshops relating to depression and suicide
  • Offers outreach in schools and workplaces following the death of a student, staff member or colleague as a crisis worker
  • Chair, National Survivors of Suicide Day event – held locally, one of the largest events running simultaneously with other memorials across the country
  • Chairs numerous national and local Suicide Awareness Walks, raising over $200,000.00 cumulative with 300-900 persons participating annually.  Profits raised are used to bring suicide awareness to communities
  • Authored a training program for facilitating a survivors of suicide support group
  • Appeared in numerous interviews for television and newspaper articles including the Detroit Free Press, WNEM, ABC, MCTV, Better Homes, Midland Community Television, TCT
  • 2014 recipient of HealthPlus community vision award for the state of Michigan, given to someone who is recognized as an unsung hero who works tirelessly and voluntarily to improve their community’s health and wellbeing
  • Other awards including “Saginawian” of the year; “Volunteer of the Year Award” from United Way; “Woman of the Year” from Zonta Club; “Personal Appreciation Award” from Saginaw County Sheriff Department; “Distinguished Victims Services Award” by the State of Michigan; “Humanitarian Award” from JJLMF; “Hero Award” from Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority