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I didn’t attend college thinking I’d become a suicide awareness speaker or mental health speaker. My goal many decades ago was to work in advertising and write ads. And I did that, working for a top agency in Richmond Virginia as a copywriter at the Martin Agency and other agencies after that.

This is an ad I did for Pfizer when I was a freelancer after I left agency life to be a mom. Stupid little comic-style ad but I loved the illustration.

Later, I would co-own a digital marketing agency which I sold after my son Charles’s death by suicide in 2015. I had thought if I waited long enough, my passion for digital marketing would return. It did not.

charles aubrey rogers
Charles Aubrey Rogers 1995-2015

The universe pushed me to be a suicide awareness speaker

The pull was as strong as the moon on the ocean tides. I had been speaking as a business owner for many years, mainly on women in business, content marketing, and social media. And I grew up on stage in improv, sketch comedy, and plays.

So my initial fear of vulnerability far exceeded any fear of being on stage speaking in front of an audience. (Now you can see where my mental health and social media expertise comes from.)

I was terrified of stepping out into the spotlight and potentially making my child the poster kid for heroin addiction and suicide. He was more than that.

But other people might be able to avoid what I was going through if they had the information I know now. And those also going through loss of a loved one needed support, too.

I didn’t venture much into the topic of suicide or addiction at first until I was adequately trained to offer mental health, suicide, grief, or addiction education. I got trained and credentialed and I went to events with those who had lived through a suicide attempt and listened to their stories.

My main focus in advertising was the audience. As a speaker on suicide prevention, my main focus is still the audience

suicide prevention speaker audience annemossrogers
The audience at the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk at UNC Chapel Hill with Suicide Prevention Speaker, AnneMoss Rogers

Who are they? They include first responders, clinicians, educators, politicians, executives, managers, employees, parents, suicide loss survivors, teens and young adults, and people with lived experience. Many times my audience has all of the above, and I craft my message in a way that allows everyone to have a takeaway without watering down the message.

It’s taken years to weave together presentations with education, storytelling, case studies, resources, and examples, to balance it all out so people stay engaged, learn and most of all feel motivated and heard.

Hundreds of index cards from attendees have shared have helped me shape that message to make it even more relatable and relevant. What a precious gift.

Hand-written comment on lined index card: 9.29.2023. "Oh my heart. I love you-your mission-your advocacy. Our world needs more of you speaking and inspiring. I will carry your message with me and march forward and pay it forward. presence is powerful."
Quote from one thing you learned in AnneMoss’s mental health program- 9.29.2023.

I have presided over events with 8 people in the audience and others with 2,000+. I’ve presented in grand ballrooms, prisons, gyms, libraries, military bases, corporations, conferences, and even in a barn complete with a barrel as my “lectern” and bales of hay for attendees to sit.

Every presentation is customized to speak to the people who are sitting in front of me–those who took the time to get dressed and attend. They deserve hope and ways to heal if they took the time and trouble to offer me their precious time.

Stories help the learning stick. Some of mine and those of others. That’s what people remember.

The most important research I ever did

To become a suicide prevention speaker and offer suicide prevention training, I didn’t just read studies, and books, write books, and talk to scientists as well as clinicians. I had to find and listen to the people who attempted suicide or lived with thoughts of suicide, and those who loved them as well as those who were like me– suicide loss survivors.

I heard their stories, and still hear them today, never interrupting or passing judgment.

suicide prevention speaker annemossrogers on stage
Suicide Prevention Speaker, AnneMoss Rogers at Florida State University in Panama City at a Suicide Prevention Conference

Only after I reviewed guidelines, became certified as a trainer, and conferred with experts on my presentations did I have the confidence to present on this topic and offer suicide prevention training.

The antidote to imposter syndrome is education

And lots of it. That never stops.

What I lack in “slick” I make up in emotionally naked, straightforward delivery, breaking down complex issues into language and concepts people understand and takeaways they can put into action for themselves or their loved ones.

I help meeting planners promote the event

Through social media, video clips, and my newsletter which goes out to over 10k subscribers, I seek to promote the event because we have the same goal–to get more butts in seats! And I want to give you all you need on time and right when you ask for it because you got a lot of stuff to do other than fussing over me.

I do what I do so others are not standing in my shoes.

For those who are standing in my shoes, I’m here for you, too.

And I do it in memory of the funniest, most popular kid in school–my son Charles Aubrey Rogers.