This week we hear from Christine O’Hagan, who writes about opening up to colleagues and others as a high-achieving Texas businesswoman. Good timing, as the director of psychology at a top-ranked U.S. psychiatric hospital wrote this weekend about this website and what his field should think about our emerging voices. It’s worth reading.
Thomas Ellis comes off as kind of nervous, but he’s trying to understand. It’s a good glimpse of why the mental health field still moves as cautiously as it does around us. “These are arguably vulnerable people putting highly sensitive information ‘out there,’ where it cannot be controlled by the AAS or anyone else,” he writes. “Or are these perhaps paternalistic sensitivities of an overprotective clinician, viewing these individuals as less resilient than they actually are?”
We tend to agree with that second part. And now, here’s Christine:
#todayistandup is a new series of selfies by attempt survivors on Instagram, thanks to Dese’rae Stage of Live Through This. Dozens so far. Who’s next? And now …
This week, the Canadian activist who tweets at @unsuicide takes us on a tour through the online world of crisis response, where the suicide awareness establishment acknowledges it’s still largely clueless. In the conversation ahead: social media suicide hoaxes, what Twitter does wrong, the need for transparency, why hotlines are outdated, why trained peers are crucial, and how to walk the oh-so-careful law enforcement line between tracking people down for help and scaring them away.
The TED site has posted this essay. And here’s some news:
American Association of Suicidology takes groundbreaking step to engage people who have been suicidal
Washington, D.C., Feb. 5, 2014. The suicide rate is estimated at one in about 10,000 people. For people who have survived a suicide attempt, the risk is far higher. Today, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is taking a crucial step to engage this significant population: It is working to create a new division that will give people with the lived experience of suicidal thinking a chance to have a stronger voice in the field of suicide awareness.
We have three videos for you this week. But first, a couple of examples of deeply unhelpful responses to suicidal thinking.
From Yale, here is the story of a student who was forced to formally withdraw from the Ivy League school. “As a result of my expulsion from the college, I was even more depressed when I left than when I was admitted,” she writes. And from Toronto, here is the story of a woman who was refused entry by a U.S. border official and later was asked by another, “Were you suicidal in the spring?” The Toronto Star story notes that a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police “recently confirmed to the Star that information about Canadians who attempt or threaten suicide is filed by police services into the database and shared with the FBI and other agencies.”
The videos have a more empowering message.
This week’s post is by activist and writer Laura Delano, who first published this in a longer version last fall at Mad in America and gave us permission to post it here.
First, two links: JD Schramm, whose TED Talk on being an attempt survivor opened an important public conversation, posted his “real advice” this month on recovering from an attempt. And this petition by attempt survivor and activist Sandra Kiume, or @unsuicide, asks the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to address the confusion around the term “suicide survivor.” Here’s Laura:
I am alive today in the most intense, sometimes painful, always beautiful of ways, and one of the many reasons I credit for my life is this: I am a failed product of “Suicide Prevention.”
This week’s post is by Emily Lupsor. She’s a mental health advocate in North Carolina, where she’s pursuing her masters in social work. Her research interests include measuring and facilitating growth in attempt survivors, and she hopes to establish a peer-run support group in the Charlotte area with several community partners.
I can’t pinpoint the age at which my challenges with mental wellness began. Was it the tearful, sweaty-palmed anxiety of childhood? The numb apathy of my high school years? My first major depressive episode of college? I have always been a Sensitive Person and spent most of my life assuming that I would die by my own hand.
2013 was a groundbreaking year for suicide attempt survivors. For the first time, we were not a tiny scattering of isolated people daring to tell our stories, but a quickly growing group of people who found each other through new national projects and agreed that more must be done.
Here are a few achievements, and then we look to the year ahead:
We’ll be back with the new year. Watch for our next post on Monday, Jan. 6.
This week’s post is about finding connections between two groups of survivors: attempt survivors and people who have lost someone to suicide. Some of us are both.
This fall, I was asked by the editor of Surviving Suicide, a fellow project for the American Association of Suicidology, to write a message for its readers. You can find it here. But in Massachusetts, author and public speaker Craig A. Miller is far ahead on collaborating with loss survivors for suicide awareness work. In the video above, he speaks to a local suicide prevention walk. And below, Craig explains how he came to find common ground between these sometimes very different worlds: