I asked Jack Gorman to consider writing a post after I noticed a comment he left a few weeks ago identifying himself as a former psychiatrist who had treated many suicidal patients. “One of the many things I learned is that I never knew what it was like to be suicidal until it happened to me,” he wrote. “No clinician can possibly know exactly what that depth of hopelessness is like.”
Gorman came across this site while doing volunteer work with a suicide prevention organization in New York, where he lives. “I decided to share my story because my recovery involves trying to make amends for the many errors I made, and this includes being open to telling what I did, if it can be helpful to another person,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It is not, of course, easy for me and I am wary of the consequences of being public, but I think it is the right thing to do.”
The push to give suicide attempt survivors more of a voice might actually be working.
While the Live Through This portrait project takes off with mentions by Brain Pickings, PostSecret and Upworthy, one national suicide prevention group has pointed out the trend and asked for more.
“Two examples of efforts to provide forums for survivors of suicide attempts are Live Through This and What Happens Now?” Suicide Prevention Resource Center director Jerry Reed wrote earlier this month. “We need to expand efforts to encourage and support attempt survivors in bringing their expertise to the struggle against suicide,” including through peer support networks.
That call for more peer support _ for more people who’ve had suicidal thoughts or actions using that experience to help others _is more significant than you might think. Here’s why: The suicide prevention and mental health fields already have plenty of peers, many more than we know. Many of them just don’t feel comfortable identifying themselves.
Stigma? Among the very people who should know better? Oh, yes.