People who have direct experience with suicide have an important role to play in suicide prevention. These individuals—including suicide attempt survivors, others who have experienced a suicidal crisis, and those who have lost a loved one to suicide—can be powerful agents for challenging prejudice and generating hope for people at risk.
Goal 10 of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (in particular, Objectives 10.1 and 10.3) emphasizes the need to involve individuals with lived experience in suicide prevention. As described below, two Action Alliance groups—focusing on suicide attempt survivors and survivors of suicide loss—have guided our work in this area.
Suicide Attempt Survivors
To support the engagement of people with lived experience in suicide prevention, the Action Alliance’s Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force developed The Way Forward: Pathways to Hope, Recovery, and Wellness with Insights from Lived Experience. This resource discusses the value and importance of engaging the perspectives of people with lived experience, and provides recommendations on how to do so.
"For far too many years suicide prevention has not engaged the perspectives of those who have lived through suicidal experiences. Because of social stigma and fear, as well as personal shame, a culture of silence prevailed. The Way Forward represents a seminal moment in this field's history; it is an opportunity to benefit from the lived experience of suicide attempt survivors." -Action Alliance's The Way Forward, Pathways to Hope, Recovery, and Wellness Report
Survivors of Suicide Loss
To enhance response in the aftermath of a suicide, the Task Force on Survivors of Suicide Loss developed Responding to Grief, Trauma, and Distress After a Suicide: U.S. National Guidelines. This resource presents a set of guidelines describing the infrastructure, resources, systems, and services required to ensure an effective response that reduces future suicide risk, and supports those who have been bereaved.
"The vision that guided the Task Force in its work is of a world where communities and organizations provide everyone who is exposed to a suicide access to effective services and support immediately—and for as long as necessary—to decrease their risk of suicide, to strengthen their mental health, and to help them cope with grief." - Action Alliance's Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force