September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day and this year the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its first report on global suicide prevention. The WHO calls suicide prevention a global imperative. The stats certainly bear that out. We need to be doing something different.
This past year has seen some significant changes in the North American suicide prevention field. What has changed?
In January 2014 the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) launched a new blog titled – What Happens Now? Life After Suicidal Thinking…What’s Your Story?”
It makes for powerful reading.
The reason the AAS has done this? “Few voices of attempt survivors have emerged in the national conversation about suicide, and few resources exist online. We’d like to change that.”
After all, having attempted suicide is not something people commonly talk about. The sense of shame and stigma is strong. “While some progress is currently being made to address the issue of stigma, suicide attempt survivors remain a stigmatised and neglected group”
And yet – who better to tell us how we can best make a difference in suicide prevention?
There are many suicide attempt survivors who are “out to change the landscape of suicide prevention”. They want their voices to be heard at the table when it comes to discussing how best to prevent suicide.
One such person is Craig A. Miller, author of “This is How it Feels a memoir of attempting suicide and finding life”. The video clips and interviews on his website are compelling and deeply thought provoking. In one of his blog posts he talks about the world of difference between the phrases not wanting to die and wanting to live. Words matter.
Another powerful advocate is Kevin Hines. You may have heard his story of surviving a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. His book, “Cracked Not Broken” and clips of his talks about suicide prevention can be found here.
For the past four years Dese’Rae L Stage has been working on an amazing ongoing portrait and oral history series on suicide attempt survivors. According to the website, “Live Through This inspires compassion and underscores the fact that suicide affects us all—no one is immune. It encourages the viewer to look into the eyes of the subject, to fill their shoes and meet them in their humanity.”
There is so much we can learn from those who have survived. If we are willing to listen.
Dawn M. Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc. http://www.therapyonline.ca
 Craig A. Miller about a documentary on his website
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA