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Release: Sept. 10, 2001

APA gives Westefeld award for 'Outstanding Contribution' to journal

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A division of the American Psychological Association has given University of Iowa College of Education Professor John Westefeld its first-ever "Outstanding Major Contribution to The Counseling Psychologist" award for a lead article in an issue devoted to the subject of suicide.

The new award, which Westefeld accepted Aug. 26 during the APA's annual meeting in San Francisco, is given for the most significant scholarly contribution to "The Counseling Psychologist" in the previous year. Westefeld's work was published in July 2000. "The Counseling Psychologist" is the scholarly journal of the American Psychological Association's Division of Counseling Psychology.

"I am extremely humbled and honored to receive this award," Westefeld said. "I have devoted most of my career to research and writing in the area of suicide and it means a great deal to have this work honored."

Westefeld, a professor in the UI College of Education's Division of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, wrote the introduction to the July 2000 issue of "Counseling Psychologist" and was lead author of both the main article, "Suicide: An Overview," and "Contemporary Issues in Suicidology," a rejoinder to several articles written by other authors in response to the main article. Michael R. Maples, now a graduate of the UI College of Education's Division of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, coauthored the main article and response, along with Lillian M. Range and John Alcorn of the University of Southern Mississippi, and
James R. Rogers and Jamie L. Bromley of the University of Akron.

The main article, "Suicide: An Overview," is a comprehensive review of current literature about suicide. An introduction to the article calls suicide "a major mental health problem in the United States and an issue that significantly impacts the mental health treatment community.

"Despite this reality, research suggests that comprehensive, systematic training in suicidology in counseling psychology programs rarely occurs," the introduction states. "One reason for this state of affairs may be that the suicide literature is spread across a variety of disciplines, making it difficult for educators and practitioners to stay informed about the knowledge base in suicidology."

The purpose of the article, Westefeld and his coauthors say, is to provide an overview of suicide research relevant to professionals involved in counseling psychology.

Westefeld has devoted much of his research over the past 20 years to the topic of suicide. In the past three years alone he has authored or coauthored articles exploring suicide among gay, lesbian and bisexual college students; the link between suicide and depression among college students in general; heavy metal music and adolescent suicidal tendencies; and rational suicide and terminal illness. He has also given numerous presentations and workshops on the topic, including one talk during a colloquium titled "Viewing Loss and Trauma Through the Lens of Positive Psychology" at the APA's annual meeting in August.