Dennis Gillan

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Dennis Gillan is a national thought leader on the topic of suicide prevention and mental health advocacy. He travels internationally speaking, raising awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.


Dennis has been deeply touched by suicide after the loss of both of his brothers to suicide, eleven years apart. After years of sitting on the sidelines, he jumped into helping those in need by working on the suicide prevention hotline when he lived in Chicago. After moving to South Carolina, Dennis got involved with several non-profits that take on mental health issues, and this allows him to lobby lawmakers and raise awareness by sharing his story. Dennis gave a TEDx talk about loneliness that has received over 25,000 views! Dennis also co-wrote a children's book about dealing with sadness and showing children how kindness can save a life.


Dennis is the executive director of a non-profit called the Half a Sorrow Foundation. The name of the foundation comes from an old Swedish proverb that states: a shared joy is a double joy; a shared sorrow is half a sorrow. The mission of the Half a Sorrow Foundation is to improve mental health by promoting real conversations. Dennis’s keynote talk definitely promotes real conversations, and his style and delivery are like nothing else out there. He combines his losses with real-world solutions and even sprinkles in humor from time to time to disarm the audience and let the message land, and that message is that life is worth living! You can find out more here:

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  • What is your favorite quote? A shared joy is a double joy; a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.
  • Are there any moments that stand out as having a significant impact on your career? The first time I spoke, I cried the entire time. Second time, I cried half the time. Third time they prayed for me before I went on and I needed that and I crushed that talk. Crushed it!!
  • Outside of your profession do you have any hobbies/interests? Tennis, hiking, and anything that gets me out of my head.
  • Who do you look up to as a mentor and why? In the speaking business---John O'Leary. His message is inspiring and he is just a great guy in general. I aspire to have an organization like his, and to be as nice as he is:)
  • Is there anything else we should know about you? Watch what happens after the talk....people come up to me and share some of their sorrows. It blows my mind and I have to factor in time for it. At one event I got done at 8:00 and got back t