Speaking Endorsements

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Lanny Berman, PhD, ABPP Executive Director 
Author, Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology (2000) 
Professor, American University

To Whom It May Concern:

It is with great pleasure that I nominate to you Terry L. Wise for you consideration as the Welcome Back Awardee in the category of Destigmatization.

As noted in her biography (enclosed), Terry, a former assistant attorney general, was widowed in 1999 at the young age of 35 when her husband died of ALS.  he had been diagnosed only three weeks before their wedding.  Devastated, she devolved from bereavement into the throes of an unbearable, clinical depression.  On Christmas Day, 2000 she made a nearly lethal suicide attempt, washing down a drug cocktail of some 200 Percosets and 60 doses of Morphine with a pint of gin.  Miraculously, and thankfully, she survived.

Discharged from an inpatient unit Terry embarked on a course of outpatient treatment combining antidepressant medication and psychotherapy.  Gradually, she dug out of her hole of despair and, subsequently, then, in her own words, became determined “to present [her]self as a living example of how the therapeutic process can work to keep hope and people alive.”

Terry authored a memoir about her depression, suicide attempt, and recovery.  Waking Up (2003), has been described as “remarkable, deeply moving” (Rabbi Harold Kushner), “riveting, compelling, and deeply moving” (Barry Farber, Ph.D., Director Clinical Training, Columbia University) and has been endorsed by a large number of prominent mental health organizations.  It is a remarkable piece of work.

What makes Terry yet more remarkable, however, is that she did not rest with her writing, so often the cathartic process that turns the author’s tragedy into some resting sense of peace and acceptance.  Rather, Terry has embarked on a…career as a public speaker, teacher, and model for recovery…[Terry] has made a large number of keynote addresses at conference ranging from that of my own association to those of the national ALS Society.  She is now sponsored as a speaker by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and workshop presenter for the American Academy of Bereavement, covering topics ranging from long-term care-giving to depression and suicide prevention.

She is an extraordinary and compelling presenter.  Often she co-presents with her therapist to make real to the audience the therapeutic alliance so essential to the success of combined therapeutic interventions and treatment compliance.

Terry Wise fits to a tee the character and criteria defined by this award designed to acknowledge what is so necessary to encourage others to understand and seek treatment for their depression.  Her courage and articulate sharing of her demons and insights testifies to the essentials necessary to reduce shame and guilt associated with depression.

I can think of no better person for this award and highly recommend her for your consideration.


Lanny Berman, Ph.D., ABPP
Executive Director, American Association of Suicidology
Author, Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology (2000)
Professor, American University
Former Director, National Center for the Study of Prevention of Suicide, Washington School of Psychiatry