A growing number of people are speaking publicly and without melodrama about their experience then and now. It helps to discuss in advance what they will present, and how.
Heidi Bryan, Wisconsin: Heidibryan.com
Heidi is an attempt survivor and lost her brother to suicide. She has served on the board of directors for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and co-authored “Now What Do I Do?” a guide for suicide attempt survivors. She serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s suicide attempt survivor task force and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline consumer survivor subcommittee. She is a facilitator for suicide bereavement support groups and author of “Must Be the Witches in the Mountains,” on grief after suicide.
Nate Cannon, Minnesota: Runningrewired.com
Nate Cannon is the transgender author of the memoir Running on a Mind Rewired, which is used in treatment centers and hospitals to teach about chemical dependency and mental illness. He has survived two attempts and lives with a painful, progressive neurological disorder called dystonia, a result of his injuries. Over 10 years clean and sober, he has finished the Twin Cities Marathon five years in a row. As a person living well in recovery with bipolar and anxiety, Nate speaks regularly for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and others.
Leah Harris, Washington: Power2u.org
Leah is a mother, performance artist, advocate, and survivor of multiple suicide attempts in her youth. She is the communications and development coordinator for the National Empowerment Center. She serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s suicide attempt survivor task force.
Sue W. Martin, Alabama: Outofthewhirlpool.com
Sue is an author and attempt survivor and works with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Her self-published memoir was released in 2013. She has presented before diverse groups including veterans, mental health professionals, guide dog users and blind rehab professionals like herself. She has been invited to present her story at the Library of Congress in October 2014.
Craig A. Miller, Boston: Thisishowitfeels.com
Craig is an author, speaker and attempt survivor. His self-published memoir was released in 2012. He has spoken at the Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Conference, Samaritans Inc. of Boston and elsewhere. He recently was elected to the executive committee for The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention. He is the subject of a documentary film in production and is working on his follow-up book.
Andrew O’Brien, Austin, Texas: WYSHProject.org
Andrew is an Iraq war veteran and attempt survivor. He speaks to both military and civilian communities, helping people to realize that they are not alone in the way they think or feel. He encourages them to seek help and to help their peers. He has spoken at Fort Lewis in Washington state, Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, the U.S. Southern Command and elsewhere.
Cheryl Sharp, Washington: LinkedIn
Cheryl holds the unique perspective of a person who struggled with a severe mental illness and is a trauma survivor, a family member of a loved one who died as a result of mental illness and a provider of substance abuse and mental health services. She is senior advisor for trauma-informed services with the National Council for Behavioral Health. She is an advanced level WRAP facilitator, Mental Health First Aid USA instructor and trainer of Intentional Peer Support. She is also an ordained minister.
Dese’Rae L. Stage, New York: Livethroughthis.org
Dese’Rae is a photographer, writer and suicide awareness advocate. Experience with self-injury and a suicide attempt led her to create Live Through This, a series of portraits and stories of attempt survivors. The project has been featured in The Associated Press, Salon, Curve Magazine and elsewhere. Dese’Rae has provided commentary for the BBC and HuffPost Live and has spoken at MIT. She was keynote speaker for Suicide Prevention Week 2013 at the University of Texas at Austin.