Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, Ph.D.

Founder and Director

Kelly Posner, PhD is a Professor of Psychiatry in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, the Founder and Director of The Columbia Lighthouse Project, and a member of the board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She was commissioned by the FDA to develop improved methods of suicide risk assessment which they then characterized as “setting a standard in the field” and The New York Times called this work “one of the most profound changes of the past sixteen years to regulations governing drug development.” The CDC noted that her work is “changing the paradigm in suicide risk assessment in the US and worldwide.” The President of the American Psychiatric Association noted the C-SSRS “could be seen as really a watershed moment, like the introduction of antibiotics.” The Department of Defense called her work with the C-SSRS “nothing short of a miracle”, is central to their National Strategy, and said it “will help propel us closer to a world without suicide.” Dr. Posner is about to receive The Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Her work with the C-SSRS has been noted in a keynote speech at the White House, has been presented to Congress, and she presented in a school safety forum at the U.S. Senate. Through her advocacy, she has changed local, national and international policy, which in turn has helped achieve reductions in suicide across all types of public health settings, military, states, healthcare, and countries. She gave the invited presentation on tackling depression and suicide at the first European Union high level conference on mental health, was recognized as the most Distinguished Alumna of her graduate school in the past fifty years, and received the New York State Suicide Prevention Award. Her policy work with the C-SSRS helped the state of Utah achieve its first decrease in suicides in a decade and helped the U.S. Marine Corp achieve a 22% suicide reduction. Israel said her work “is not only saving millions of lives but in Israel it is literally changing the way we live our lives.” Recommended or adopted by CDC, FDA, DoD, and NIMH, the C-SSRS has become the gold standard for suicide monitoring and is ubiquitous across the U.S and many international agencies. Dr. Posner’s scholarly work was included in the compendium of the most important research in the history of the study of suicide