I joined other speakers with a view of the ocean in Panama City Florida from the stage in front of a packed auditorium. As the mental health keynote speaker on suicide, my topic needed to have something in there for all the attendees–clinicians including school counselors, teachers, students, suicide attempt survivors, suicide loss survivors, first responders, and community advocates.
They had a survivor’s panel that was really helpful. Just hearing those stories really helped people understand that no one gets to thinking about suicide because they had one break up but that it’s a series of difficult hurdles and underlying issues and past traumas that lead to a moment of intense emotional pain.
When you run a panel of survivors of suicide attempts, it’s important that they don’t activate the audience in a negative way by dwelling too long in the despair phase or being too descriptive about suicide attempts. This group handled that very well and did a great job of describing the multiple complex feelings that push people toward suicide. The panel ended with a discussion on how each of them moved forward and how they practiced self-care.
The index cards are always a highlight for me. A link to all the ones from this presentation is below.