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‘Out of the shadows’


The TED site has posted this essay. And here’s some news:

American Association of Suicidology takes groundbreaking step to engage people who have been suicidal

Washington, D.C., Feb. 5, 2014. The suicide rate is estimated at one in about 10,000 people. For people who have survived a suicide attempt, the risk is far higher. Today, the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is taking a crucial step to engage this significant population: It is working to create a new division that will give people with the lived experience of suicidal thinking a chance to have a stronger voice in the field of suicide awareness.

From now on, all new or renewing AAS members have the option of declaring their primary affiliation as Lived Experience/Attempt Survivors. Directions on how to make this designation, including the March 24 deadline, are below. [Note: A personal lived experience is not necessary to declare this affiliation. People who have loved ones who have been suicidal, clinicians who work with people who are suicidal and researchers  who strive to understand and best assist them are also welcome. This does not affect people’s standing in other divisions.]

If 5 percent of the membership chooses Lived Experience/Attempt Survivor as their primary affiliation, AAS will create a Lived Experience/Attempt Survivors division, a groundbreaking step in the suicide prevention world. AAS President Dr. Bill Schmitz Jr. explains, “AAS is the only membership organization for the suicide awareness field, comprised of numerous subgroups including clinicians, researchers, crisis centers and survivors. It’s time to bring those who have lived the experience into the fold and out of the shadows.”

“The inclusion of attempt survivors will increase our ability to prevent future suicides and reduce stigma,” said AAS board chair Julie Cerel, PhD.

The goal is to be able to announce this new division at the AAS national conference in Los Angeles this April. AAS board members have expressed their support and have worked hard in making this happen.

“I am thrilled to see this new opportunity for suicide attempt survivors and those who love and support them,” says Sally Spencer-Thomas, Survivor Division Director for AAS. “There are many suicide loss survivors like me standing in solidarity because we know how important this effort is.”

New and existing members should email the following message, including their name and email address, to the AAS office at webmaster (at) suicidology (dot) org and caraesque (at) gmail (dot) com: “I am a member of AAS in good standing and I would like to designate Lived Experience/Attempt Survivor as my primary division. I am signing this petition stating that I have declared this affiliation in support of the creation of this division.”

Please do so by March 24, to allow names to be compiled before the AAS annual conference April 8-12.

The updated AAS membership form is available at, but the email is required to request the potential division.

This potential division grows from the AAS Lived Experience/Attempt Survivor Task Force, which launched at the AAS national conference in 2013.

5 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. my daughter killed herself a year ago Feb. 13. I wish she had had this place to look to for help. I hope you can help at least one person to not take their life….


    • I attempted suicide just under one year ago, and I legitimately thought that my parents would be back to normal after mourning my death for a few months. I hope you are able to continue on with your life, even after your loss.


  2. As an attempt-survivor who kept silent for many years, I now know there are many who want to understand what motivation(s) can be at the core of suicidal thinking and behavior, so sharing and awarenness is needed.


  3. I believe this is very important and would love to be involved. However, I am unable to afford the membership fee and there are probably many others in my position.


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