Get Ready to Tell Your Lived Experience Story about Suicide
- 1 hour on-demand video
- 5 articles
- 5 downloadable resources
- Full lifetime access
- Access on mobile and TV
- Certificate of Completion
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- Students will be able to understand the pros and cons of telling their story and how best to gain benefits and avoid unintended consequences.
- The importance of suicide awarness and prevention, and how to formulate your lived-experience into a story.
- Time and energy needed for self-reflection to examine the way that suicide or suicidal intensity has affected your life.
- Have the time to dedicate to digesting the videos and allow space for emotions to be tapped into.
In this course people who have had personal experiences with suicide learn to prepare for safe and effective storytelling about how they lived through it. Lived experiences with suicide include grieving a suicide loss, living through a suicide attempt, living with suicidal thoughts or feelings, or being a caregiver for someone who has been suicidal. The lessons contained here help people weigh the benefits and consequences of disclosing your story and how best to prepare yourself for the often hard work of developing a safe and effective narrative.
- People with lived experience with suicide (suicide loss survivors, suicide attempt survivors, people who live with suicidal intensity, their caregivers and allies) are encouraged to take this course. The lessons here will help anyone who self-identifies as having a personal experience with suicide who also is interested in exploring whether or not telling their story is right for them.
- Those that have lived experiences around suicide loss survivors and those living with a mental health issue.
At United Suicide Survivors International we have a "big tent" for our definition of "lived experience" with suicide. Here people who identify as people living through suicide bereavement, suicide attempts, suicidal intensity, and all of the support people are welcome. If you self-identify as having a personal experience with suicide, we welcome you under our tent. We believe that together we are better.
In this introductory course, you will be reflecting on and preparing yourself for the work of sharing your lived experience story. We know this can be an important and difficult journey for many of you. Some of you might want to work on your story just for your eyes only. This process can be powerfully healing -- in fact, there is a whole body of literature based upon the process of shaping a coherent and redemptive narrative of our lives. It's called "Narrative Psychology," and if you are interested in this topic, I suggest you read the work of Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona: https://youtu.be/67XZFti6egU.
Some of you may be thinking about sharing your story with others in your life -- friends and family, peers or close colleagues -- as a way to help them understand what you have been through and how you have come to understand your experiences and recovery pathway. This course is also for you.
Some of you may be considering sharing your story more publicly -- in local, national or international forums. This is a great place to start that process, because once your story is out, it's very hard to reel it back in. This course will give you an opportunity to be thoughtful about the when, where, how, why and with whom BEFORE you go public.
Now that we've identified who this course is for, we also want to identify who this course is not for -- at least not yet. If you are currently experiencing moderate to high suicidal intensity or if your current personal situation is unstable or in massive transition, we require that you seek stabilization before delving into the work of this course. Your safety and well-being is the most important thing. The course will still be here when you are ready. The course does not take the place of the crisis, professional and peer support that will be much better suited to bring you out of crisis or even moderate despair. Once you and your providers have decided you are ready to take on this meaning making process, we are standing by.
What will you need?
We recommend you get a nicely bound storytelling journal to write out your exercises and reflections.
As you dive into the lectures, you might surround yourself with things that provide comfort and a sense of safety (e.g., music, warm beverages, blankets).
Colored pens and sticky notes might also come in handy for some of the exercises.
If at any time you find yourself in an emerging suicide crisis, here are the international crisis lines -- connect to one near you.
What is United Suicide Survivors International?
United Suicide Survivors International (or "United Survivors") is the first global home for people with lived experience with suicide. We are the organization who is putting together this series of courses on storytelling and suicide.
We'd like you to take a minute to explore our website and its resources, so you know who we are and what we do. https://youtu.be/Ml69AnB4_1E
On the website you will find many inspiring examples of people with lived experience as well as some in-depth webinars of thought leaders talking about how their lived expertise is shaping the field of suicide prevention and grief support: https://unitesurvivors.org/learn/
We also offer a life cycle framework for you to consider -- where are you in your journey as a change agent in suicide prevention and grief support? https://unitesurvivors.org/lifecycle/
What does "safe and effective" storytelling about suicide look like?
In the external resources provided you can review other people telling their stories about suicide. Make note of the ones you like -- what sticks out to you? Which ones don't you like? What bothers you?
The impact of a suicide death can run deep and wide. Suicide bereavement is complicated for many people, and for many finding any form of "new normal" is a daily effort. For some, we find a sense of urgency in our acute grief to "do something." This lecture and resources are here to help you reflect on the intensity of your suicide grief and to decide if now is the best time to move into becoming a change agent in suicide prevention.
Here are some additional resources to help you in your grief journey.
You are the master of your story. Only you can decide whether or not you are ready to tell your story. In this section we suggest that you take some time to reflect -- create a quiet space in yourself and listen to the small inner voice. Is this the right time for you? Can you look back at the trauma of your suicide crisis without reliving it?
One way to determine your readiness is to take an anonymous self screening. This tool will give you feedback on whether or not you may be experiencing a level of distress that might warrant some support before embarking on your storytelling efforts. Choose one of the screening tools below and spend 5 minutes finding out more about your well-being.
Rarely is our story only about us. Other people have walked with us, have contributed to our pain, and have helped us in our healing. Before we tell our story, we must carefully consider the ripple effects -- which may be positive, neutral or negative -- our story might have on others.
One important thing to consider with your A-Team BEFORE you share your story is what to do if your story isn't received well by others. Sometimes people may disagree with our call to action. Sometimes our stories stir up unfinished business in others. Sometimes our truth is very different than others'.
And sometimes we boldly stand up and share our story with all the courage we can muster in the hopes to alleviate others' suffering, and nothing changes.
As you work through this section consider what you might do to take care of yourself if you don't get the response you are hoping for.