You are the heart of a movement.
You have always been the heart of this movement. When the funding dries up and the leaders focus on other priorities, you are still carrying the flag of suicide prevention and bereavement support. Your unwavering dedication and passion has moved the most formidable mountains blocking the way of progress.
If you are recently bereaved, your main goal now is finding connection and healing. Along your journey you may (or may not) find a fire in your belly to “do something” to make a difference in the aftermath of your loss. You may find yourself leaning in to the conversation of advocacy, education and change. Take slow steps – try volunteering or participating in events and see how it feels before committing to a major endeavor. Be realistic about your capacity and goals, and first and foremost, take care of yourself. Your health and the well-being of your loved ones are of primary importance.
Too often the newly bereaved jump into advocacy work right away only to feel the sting of slow progress and multiple setbacks. The movement needs you, but you decide what the right role for you to play is.
If you have been one of many suicide loss survivors who have been working in advocacy and education for a while, I have a different call to action for you: extend your hand and reach out to those involved in the suicide attempt survivor movement. Joining our voices of lived experience – of despair, loss and recovery – we can have unprecedented influence to create positive change. No longer should we operate in silos; we have a similar vision – a world free of the tragedy of suicide.
Consider these action steps:
Listen. Listen to the powerful stories of suicide attempt survivors’ journeys in recovery and lift their voices and leadership. Read the “Way Forward” guidelines published by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Survivors of Suicide Attempts Task Force.
Collaborate. Find ways to align the goals of suicide loss survivors and suicide attempt survivors. Bring stakeholders together with clinicians and researchers to have honest and open conversations about how best to support one another. Find common ground in healing practices and advocacy initiatives.
Influence. Bring the voices of all the survivors – loss and attempt – together to help shape the conversation, in the media, with our elected officials, and in our education and training efforts.
|Photo by Flickr user Agnisoonu K|
Together, we’re better.
NOTE: As I am about to complete my second term as Survivor of Loss Division Director, this will be my last blog from this position. I am passionate about creating an inclusive and progressive home for suicide loss and attempt survivors, researchers, advocates, and clinicians. Please, contact me about your thoughts on what we as a field can do better to bring people together as a united voice for positive change. Sally@CarsonJSpencer.org
About the Author: As a psychologist, mental health advocate, and survivor of her brother’s suicide, Sally Spencer-Thomas sees suicide prevention, intervention and postvention from many perspectives. She is currently the CEO and Co-Founder for the Carson J Spencer Foundation (www.CarsonJSpencer.org) and the Survivor of Loss Division Director for AAS.