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‘A way for us to share our stories’

8 comments

This week, Josh Rivedal invites you to join a book project:

From January 2011 until mid-2013, I struggled with coming out of the closet … as a suicide attempt survivor, that is.

I also happen to be a survivor of suicide loss, of my father in 2009, and I have been talking about that to just about anyone and everyone who will listen since the day he died. I even dedicated my professional and creative career to helping people thinking of suicide or those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

In January 2011, I nearly died by suicide because of clinical depression but got help and am always in recovery. But talking about the attempt, even knowing that it would help the creative professional work that I do, was a tremendous difficulty. Would I be seen as a pariah in my social circles? Would my professional colleagues see me as inferior?

Slowly, in those first few months of recovery, I found the courage to tell a few friends. Once I found out I wasn’t a pariah but very much loved and respected, I started telling other friends. I integrated my attempt story, little by little, into my creative work. I began to see that by telling my story, it was helping others who had thought of attempting and even people who had lost a loved one to suicide. This emboldened me further to share my story on this blog in August 2013. In September 2013, my memoir on the subject was published. And in January, I wrote an article about it for The Huffington Post.

Through the recounting of my story, I met suicide prevention advocates like me who also happened to be suicide attempt survivors. I realized that there isn’t a plethora of services for suicide attempt survivors like there is for survivors of loss — and there needs to be.

Recently, I’ve been in touch with several groups of suicide attempt survivors, as well as organizations wanting to provide services for them. It occurred to me that in all of these conversations, two overarching needs were addressed: a sense of belonging in the world (i.e., I matter), and the knowledge that there are others like me.

It dawned on me that I have a project that encompasses both of those needs. (I should note that besides being an author, I also own a publishing company, Skookum Hill.)

The project is “The Good News Project.” Currently it exists as a blog, but the first volume will be published as a compilation book in October. It’s an opportunity for writers, professionals and regular people to write an inspirational, transformational true story about their lives. I have stories about schizophrenia, coming out, coming of age, a child murdered, fatherhood, and more. The concept is similar to “Chicken Soup for the Soul” but grittier, covering topics that aren’t typically brought to light in the mainstream. “The Good News Project: Volume 1” will feature 40 authors, with 40 stories, with a portion of book proceeds donated to 40 different charities.

I’m taking this concept and releasing a second volume of stories in February 2015 for suicide attempt survivors only. It’s a way for us to share our stories, create a community, help other people and show the world that we don’t just struggle — we can survive and thrive as well.

Additionally, this book could help one or more major suicide prevention organizations to prevent suicide and help attempt survivors reclaim their place in the world. Twenty percent of proceeds from this book will help raise money and awareness for suicide attempt survivor services on a grassroots level. Twenty percent will go to the authors. The rest will help recoup publishing costs and help produce future incarnations of this book.

Tentatively, this book will be titled “An Attempt to Die and the Will to Live: Inspirational Stories from People Who Survived a Suicidal Experience.”

This is where I need your help. I need 40 people who are willing to write a true story about their own suicide attempt.

Here are the guidelines:

• Your story must be about you, and it must be a true story.

• Your story must, in some way, be about your suicide attempt.

• The story must be for the benefit of the reader: What did you learn, how has it changed your life, or what can the reader take away?

• Each story can be no more than 1,000 words.

• You can include a brief bio about yourself at the end which will be included as part of the 1,000 words.

• Each author must use his or her real name.

• Gratuitous use of foul language is highly discouraged. (I’m aware of the possibility of the hilarious, utilitarian uses for the “F” word, so in some cases foul language is acceptable.)

• Overly descriptive writing about the method of your attempt is highly discouraged.

• Your post shouldn’t promote a religion or religious domination, but you can write about your faith and how it’s impacted your life.

• The deadline for submissions is Sept. 15.

• Send inquiries and posts to tony (at) skookumhill.com (Tony is my partner, and he will not read your story. He is assisting me with submissions and questions.)

• A few examples of writing styles (the following are not attempt survivor stories):

1) Creative/poetry: http://ow.ly/vVQpi

2) Creative: http://ow.ly/vVQuM

3) First-person (with writing experience) dark in tone : http://ow.ly/vVQDF

4)First-person (with no writing experience) lighter in tone : http://ow.ly/vVQNA

I hope you’ll consider being a part of this book. If your story helps even one person stay alive, it’ll be worth it. Thank you.

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8 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Yes! Count me in. Thank you for this incredible opportunity!

    Reply

    • I’m so glad to hear that “coming out of the closet” has been such a great experience for you! I’ve recently decided to do the same. I’ve shared my story on this site last year, but I didn’t tell any friends or family. I like how you said that you are “always in recovery”.

      Reply

  2. What a great idea! The more positive and balanced stories we can get out into the general public, the more the clinical and public health world may be willing to recognize how valuable the voice of the attempt survivor can be.I am not an attempt survivor but I am a film producer and suicide prevention trainer. This kind of reminds me of the 5 years I spent as the straight ally adviser for our teen center’s gay/Straight alliance.

    Reply

  3. Hi Kayakembe,

    I wanted to share this memoriam link with you. It is from the National CFIDS Foundation. The type of death is usually listed, showing that some with a Chronic Fatigue/Myalgic Encephalitis diagnosis do take their lives….thank you…

    Beverly

    http://www.ncf-net.org/memorial.htm

    Reply

  4. Brilliant idea! I’d love to be a part of it, just need to work on telling my story in 1000 words :) Thanks for offering this great opportunity

    Reply

  5. Hi my name is Julia. I am 28 years old. And I am an attempt survivor. I would love to include my story. If my story can save one person’s life then it is well worth telling. I wouldalso love to get a copy of the book.

    Reply

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