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Joanne Harpel profile

Joanne Harpel, JD + 1

Message from Joanne

Joanne L. Harpel, MPhil, JD, President of Coping After Suicide, LLC, is an international authority on suicide bereavement and postvention response, with 20+ years of experience addressing the questions, emotions, and fears that arise in the aftermath of suicide. She has a full-service practice: • working directly with grieving individuals, couples, and families • facilitating numerous national and international suicide bereavement support groups • advising schools, colleges, and universities; workplaces; and faith communities • educating mental health clinicians, health care professionals, clergy, funeral directors, first responders, and educators • speaking as an invited presenter and media guest
 A former attorney and the survivor of her own brother's suicide, Joanne co-chairs the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Lived Experience Committee and was a 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, and distress after a suicide. A Professional Career Suicidologist with the American Association of Suicidology, she is the recipient of their Survivor of the Year Award and is a member of their Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force and Workplace Committee. She is also a professional member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the National Alliance for Grieving Children. Joanne is a seasoned guest lecturer, 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, and Bereaved Parents of the USA. She's trained 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 large public university, and the psychiatry and social work departments of major medical centers. She has been a featured speaker for the New York State School Boards and Funeral Directors Associations, and has collaborated with hundreds of organizations, including the NIMH, WHO, Columbia University Schools of Social Work and Journalism, the University of Melbourne, HBO, and Sesame Street. Joanne is the former longtime Senior Director for Public Affairs and Postvention for the world's largest nonprofit dedicated to the issue (the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) where she created the most well-respected, far-reaching array of programs and resources in the field, including International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (which now takes place annually in 300 cities on 6 continents); a toolkit utilized by schools across the country facing real-time crises; a primer explaining suicide to children; and national support group facilitator and outreach training programs attended by thousands of individuals across the country over two decades. A cum laude graduate of Amherst College, she also holds graduate degrees from Cambridge University and the New York University School of Law. She lost her younger brother, Stephen, to suicide in 1993.

About Joanne's practice



Weekdays After 5pm

Weekdays 9am - 5pm




Sliding scale








In-person available: No

Virtual available: Yes



Grief and Bereavement



Out of network providers




Why state matters


Get to Know Joanne

"The work you do is a blessing that will surely continue to break down stigma and build up resources, capacity, and resilience. "

Howie G., Colleague

"Joanne has a unique talent in translating complex suicide postvention and bereavement research and knowledge to a language that is easily understood."

Mark H., Colleague

"Your presentation was one of the best I've ever heard. I was dazzled by your subject-matter expertise and articulateness."

Lowell K., Colleague

"You are an amazing professional with personal and professional expertise."

Maureen S., Colleague

"You have been hugely impactful in my life."

Meghan L., Client

"You have been a guiding light to me at my darkest moments. "

Amy S., Client

"I don’t know how you’re able to create such a supportive environment amidst so much pain, but I hope you know how much we I appreciate it."

Nicole F., Client

"Joanne is gold"

Laura B., Client

Where did you work before going into private practice?

I spent many years with the largest suicide prevention organization in the world (the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), creating everything they now have to help families and communities cope with suicide loss. Before that, I was a lawyer -- my brother's suicide led me to make a major change in my professional direction and dedicate my career to creating the kind of support for others that I wish had been available to me when I needed it.

What is unique about the work you do, or how have you found your work to be different than your colleagues'?

I'm one of just a tiny handful of people in the entire country who specialize in suicide loss. There are lots of excellent grief therapists out there, but very few who deeply understand suicide loss from the inside out.

How participatory are you during sessions?

I'm right there with you. One of the hardest parts of losing someone to suicide is how it can leave you feeling isolated, misunderstood, and alone. I want you to feel seen and heard. Like I really get you. We're in this together.

How much do you share about yourself during our time together and why?

The fact that I lost my own brother to suicide is a big reason many clients come to me. I am open to sharing as much or as little as you find helpful.