About The Center

Minnesota Center of Suicidology logo on letterhead

The Minnesota Center for Suicidology (the Center), formed as the Strub Caulkins Center for Suicide Research in late 2015 as a 501(c)(3) charitable, nonprofit corporation with a mission to raise public awareness of suicide and related mental health issues and to contribute to efforts to reduce suicide rates in the United States and throughout the world. The work of the Center was first started through Sumrith Solutions, LLC–a now dissolved entity that gave rise to the Center. The founders of the Center—Chris Caulkins and Tim Heap—brought vast experience in emergency medical care and education, as well as first-hand experience with the effect suicide has on those left asking questions and trying to understand what happened—a group of people called “survivors.” We embody our purpose, mission, vision, and values. In early 2016, we applied for tax-exempt, public charity status from the Internal Revenue Service. In 2019, we changed our name to the Minnesota Center of Suicidology to better reflect the broadening of our activity.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Purpose Statement 

The Minnesota Center of Suicidology seeks to advance awareness and understanding of the public health implications of suicide. 

Mission Statement 

The mission of the Minnesota Center of Suicidology is to increase suicide awareness and alertness, decrease stigma, and reduce the impact of suicide, through education, research, and consulting.

Vision Statement 

The Minnesota Center of Suicidology envisions a place where those with lived experience, suicidologists, researchers, and mental health professionals can come together to receive support, conduct research, obtain education, advocate for change, and work collectively toward zero suicide.  

Values Statement 

The Minnesota Center of Suicidology values interdisciplinary approaches to suicide prevention and believes as Edwin Shneidman, the father of suicidology, said, “suicide is everybody’s business.” 

Dr. Chris Caulkins presenting on suicide at St. Cloud State University.

Dr. Chris Caulkins presenting on suicide at St. Cloud State University.

Board of directors

Jessie Breyer-Peterson, PsyD, LP

Jessie Breyer-Peterson, Secretary of the Board

Secretary and Director

Jessie has worked in the field of psychology and mental health for over 15 years. Jessie earned her Doctorate  in Counseling Psychology and brings several years of clinical experience to the board. Much of this clinical work has focused on the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. 

Jessie also has a background conducting research on substance use disorders and is currently a professor of psychology at Century College, where she teaches a variety of psychology and mental health-related courses.

Jessie has a lifelong passion for helping others and bringing awareness to mental health-related issues. Throughout her professional roles and personal life, she has seen the impact of mental health disorders and suicide, and strives to use her voice to advocate for those who are struggling.

Chris Caulkins, EdD, MPH, MA

Chris Caulkins, Executive Director and President of the Board

President and Executive Director

Having experienced the suicide deaths of his wife, brother, and over ten work colleagues, Chris has studied suicide and related phenomenon extensively and is passionate about saving lives. Chris' 20+ years of experience as a paramedic and faculty in a college emergency medical services program give him a unique perspective on mental illness and suicidal behavior.

Chris presents on suicide frequently on a state, national, and international level. Chris is certified by the American Association of Suicidology both as a psychological autopsy investigator and as a college and university suicide prevention specialist. Chris' academic credentials include a Master of Public Health, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (interdisciplinary research), a graduate certificate in Career and Technical Education, and a Doctorate in Education at St. Cloud State University; his dissertation was on suicide among emergency responders and educational implications.

Daniel Hanson, MA

Daniel Hanson, Board Director

Chair and Director

Daniel Hanson is a decorated Marine Corps combat veteran that has devoted his life to helping others. He has been an Outreach Specialist for Wounded Warrior project since 2015 and previously served as the Minnesota Army National Guard’s State Suicide Prevention Program Manager. He served in the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007 and was part of 2d Battalion, 4th Marines. 

One of Dan’s greatest contributions to helping others has been his inherent ability to spread awareness to those struggling after separating from the military. Dan is a huge advocate for veterans and has spoken nationally on his personal experience, including testifying in front of the United States Senate in 2010 and The United States Congress in 2011. After losing his brother to suicide shortly after separating from the Marine Corps in 2007, Dan has worked diligently to spread the message of hope and raise awareness for suicide prevention through public speaking, suicide intervention classes and tireless hours of personal service helping veterans. 

Dan has a Bachelor of Art in Electronic Media Communications, Bachelor of Science in Technical Management, and Master of Arts in Human Services. Dan’s a certified suicide alertness trainer for LivingWorks’ safeTALK, as well as a master trainer for LivingWorks’ Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Dan also has experience developing a suicide awareness 5k for veterans and serving as a mentor for  who were part of veteran’s court. 

Brittany Miskowiec, PhD, MSW, LICSW

Brittany Miskowiec, Board Director and Code 3 Project Manager

Board Director and Code 3 Project Director

Brittany has worked as a licensed independent clinical social worker in the fields of social work and suicidology for nearly ten years. Her education includes a doctorate in human resource education with a concentration in adult education, master of social work, bachelor of science in psychology, and a certification in interdisciplinary trauma studies.

Brittany currently teaches in the social work program at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. In her career, she has focused her research on suicide and her clinical practice working with the military population, individuals who have experienced trauma, and those bereaved by suicide.

Mary Vukelich, MA

Mary Vukelich, Treasurer of the Board

Treasurer and Director

Mary has over 20 years of public safety experience as a law enforcement officer, professor of criminal justice, and advocate for mental health issues. She has been in law enforcement since 1992, working in multiple police departments on a variety of specialized assignments.  Mary's passion for sitting on the board comes from losing many partners, students and several friends to suicide.  Mary currently teaches at Century College in the Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice and Public Safety programs.

Mary has been an active advocate in issues of mental health and its implications for family. She provided statewide training for first responders prior to the existence of Critical Intervention Teams and has volunteered with the National Alliance on Mental Health, the Community Resource Center of St. Andrews, and a variety of other non-profits. Mary also has experience in grant writing in the various fields and disciplines that have touched her personally and professionally.

Make a Donation

Donations to the Minnesota Center of Suicidology are fully tax-deductible. With any donation, please provide your name and a physical or electronic mail address so that we may provide you with appropriate substantiation for tax purposes. 

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Past directors

Tim Heap, BA

Timothy Heap, Director Emeritus

Co-founder and Director Emeritus

Tim  was instrumental in the founding of the Center, with the idea for a non-profit being his original proposal  pitched to his then business partner, Chris Caulkins. Tim developed our original policy and procedure manual, completed the volumes of paperwork necessary for 501(c)(3) designation, and built the organization's website from scratch. Tim  retired to pursue career and personal opportunities in Bangkok, Thailand. Tim has truly earned the director emeritus title. Sadly, Tim died of natural causes at the young age of 52.

Edi Hasan, MBA

Edi Hanson, Director Emeritus

Past Treasurer and Director Emeritus

Edi came to us with more than a dozen years of professional accounting experience. Edi managed the day-to-day accounting activities, reconciliations, and financial reporting for Meet Minneapolis, the non-profit, destination marketing organization for the City of Minneapolis. Edi's work with Meet Minneapolis brought much needed financial accounting and reporting experience as well as compliance experience.

Jeralyn Jargo, MS

Jeralyn Jargo, Director Emeritus

Past Chair and Director Emeritus

With a background in education, healthcare, and administration, Jeralyn  worked extensively with local and regional boards, local and regional industries, and served as a liaison among state and national initiatives, legislative efforts, and policy development and implementation. Jeralyn brought knowledge and experience with resource acquisition, system thinking, fiduciary duties, strategic planning, and servant leadership. With experience on various boards and committees, Jeralyn understood her responsibilities as a member of a non-profit to have both a fiduciary obligations and a supportive role.