We’re taking a break for August, since it’s holiday season. We leave you with this update from Australia, where Suicide Prevention Australia recently held a Lived Experience Symposium that brought together attempt survivors and loss survivors to create a national manifesto that will be available for public comment later this month. Until then, here’s more about it. And for more about Mic Eales, the artist featured in the video above, there’s this. And here’s his beautiful PhD thesis.
Five years ago, Suicide Prevention Australia published the kind of confidence-builder that the new #WayForward report demands of U.S. mental health organizations: A statement of support for attempt survivors and others who’ve been suicidal. The Australian statement is here.
Organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere, your turn.
This week’s post is by Ann Taylor. She’s an aspiring advocate for suicide prevention, 51, the mother of two teenage boys, a domestic violence advocate, a photographer and a physical therapist. This is her coming-out:
so, here’s my story.
aug. 2007: “mom has passed,” my brother says.
aug. 2008: “i’m done,” my husband says.
feb. 2009: “i love you, dad,” i say for the last time.
jan. 2010: “he didn’t make it,” my friend discloses.
a turn of events that happened just so very quickly. some expected, some by surprise.
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.
This week, we have grassroots effort at its best. Annemarie Matulis, director of the Bristol County Regional Coalition for Suicide Prevention in Massachusetts, tells the story behind a remarkable documentary on attempt survivors that made its debut last week at the state suicide prevention conference. Plans for how to share and distribute the film are still being discussed, but early reviewers say it should be a national training tool, if not mandatory viewing.
Amazingly, the 30-minute documentary was made on zero budget, with donated time and effort. Its next showing is in mid-May, at a fundraiser for suicide prevention work and a local teen center. Here’s Annemarie:
Not too long ago, Harry Miree sat down in front of a camera and opened his journal. It’s best to watch his video before reading further.
Harry was pleasantly surprised to learn about this growing movement of “out” attempt survivors. “It’s like the past seven years, this entire universe has been contained in my own head,” he said in a recent phone call. “It’s such a ‘don’t talk about it’ kind of thing. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
#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.
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 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:
A quick note before jumping into this week’s post: MTV, The Jed Foundation and media company SoulPancake are looking for young adults to participate in a mental health awareness special, “Don’t Give Up: There’s Always Hope.” They’re looking for people between 18 and about 24 who have overcome severe depression, self-harm or suicidal thinking, and their contact is AlwaysHope (at) EpicJunction (dot) com.
This week’s post is an interview with a social worker who wishes to use only her first name, Melissa. She’s one of several people in the mental health field who’ve reached out to this site to talk about their experiences, including the fear among colleagues of acknowledging that this can happen to anyone.
“I would love to see the profession being more open to people with mental illnesses,” she says.