Help out

“How can I help?”

We’re hearing this question more and more. Here’s a suggested plan:

GUT CHECK: Are you ready? Now that you’re back from your own experience, do you feel comfortable taking on this issue and helping others?

KNOW THE LANDSCAPE: What resources are available in your community? Is there a crisis center that welcomes volunteers to answer calls or offer peer support? Is there an attempt survivor support group that needs facilitators? Is there a local chapter of national organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NAMI, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America, the National Empowerment Center, Active Minds, etc.? What do they offer? Do they engage people who’ve been suicidal, and how? If not, why?

KNOW YOURSELF: What motivates you? In your explorations, who and what did you connect with? Did any ideas for new projects, resources, partnerships come to mind? What do you like to do, and what are you good at? What would you like to learn and change?

KNOW MORE: Consider learning about Wellness Recovery Action Plans and psychiatric advance directives; trainings like ASIST and Emotional CPR; support group approaches like Skills for Safer Living and Alternatives to Suicide. Explore our resources page.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: No one should be punished for this experience, or for speaking openly about it. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has good resources online, and consider sharing your story there. Tell us as well.

SPEAK UP: Share your story at sites like this one and Live Through This. Consider speaking at mental health, educational, religious and other events. Find allies, especially unlikely ones. Talk with the media, and don’t let them dwell on the drama of your attempt. Our stories are also about what happened afterward, how we’ve been treated. Write opinion pieces, blog posts, magazine stories. Join tweetchats like #SPSM (suicide prevention social media) #MHSM and #mhstigma.

SURPRISE US: Create the resources you want to see. Use your talents to find new ways to address this issue, from designing online games to writing law review articles to designing viral memes.

JOIN US: Once you’re on your way, we can help put you in touch with a national, even international, network of attempt survivors who are using their experience to make change.

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