Dr. Whiteside, concluding her keynote address to the Communities in Action to Prevent Suicide conference, April 2015, asked us to visit the websites below for a look at what suicide attempt survivors have to say for themselves. Their words offer important insights.
www.livethroughthis.org is a wonderful and compelling collection of portraits each linked to a suicide attempt survivor story, as told by those survivors. LiveThroughThis shows through these remarkable stories that everyone is susceptible to depression and suicidal thoughts. It does this simply by showing portraits and stories of attempt survivors — profoundly sharing that they are people no different than you or I.
As the website’s author Dese’Rae L. Stage writes, “…these feelings could affect your mom, your partner, or your brother, and the fear of talking about it can be a killer.”
The second website attemptsurvivors.com is a now-completed project of the American Association of Suicidology. This site also features attempt survivors who have spoken up and told their stories. This website’s editor taught me a valuable lesson also. She wrote that people continually ask survivors about suicidal thoughts and actions, saying “Why would you want to do that to yourself?” As she noted, this question represents a shocking and a fundamental misunderstanding. You see, as when inquiring about any potentially fatal health issue the question needs only be, “Why is this happening to people we love?”
Do you see the stark difference between these two questions? The first, intentionally or not, is accusatory and focuses on blaming the suicidal person. The second question reflects concern for the person and asks why it is that this has happened to this individual, without seeing the act as a personal fault — and in truth, suicide is usually the result of a mental illness process.
Thank you for reading and for hearing and listening to them.