A NEW WAY TO DISRUPT SUICIDE AND SAVE LIVES

People who've survived their struggle with suicide are powerful assets in the fight against it.  We rally these Survivors together, in communal support and peer-to-peer engagement groups.  When they gather to tell their stories, share lessons learned, and explore What Worked, they can become something profound: a lifeline for current sufferers.

 

The first (virtual)

Survivor Cadres Roundtable

This Roundtable lifts the voices of Survivors, and puts them center stage.  They are the asset.  When they talk candidly about their struggles and breakthroughs, these Survivors can:

  1. provide hope for sufferers, showing that you can survive the crisis.  You're not alone. 

  2. demonstrate a new kind of courage — the courage it takes to talk.

  3. become a trusted lifeline, drawing sufferers out of isolation, and giving them the confidence to admit their pain.  When a sufferer hears from a Survivor who's been through what they're going through — it can be a lifeline.  They can see there is no stigma, no shame, in opening up and talking.  And that can save their life. 

  4. provide insight into What Worked, sharing the tools and techniques that actually helped them survive suicide and get on the path to healing.

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A former SEAL, Jason is well-known for his comeback after being shot in the face. 

What’s less well known is that he struggled seriously with suicide.  He felt he was a failure (because of a mistake he'd made) and almost shot himself in Afghanistan.  And now he's working on codifying how to take those “end moments” and turn them into a new beginning.  “Life ambushes us… how do we drive forward?”

His advice: admit your pain to someone you trust.  You’ll feel relief, not stigma or shame.  It’s What Worked, for him. And for those who worry that admitting your pain might lead to professional repercussions, Jason discusses options. 

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COVID is putting added pressure on people grappling with PTSD and suicide. 

 

Meet Monty — a former tier-one SEAL, who's also battled extensive suicidal ideation. 

 

Here, he shares the techniques he's using to deal with the unusual challenges of COVID-19.

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Magnetic resonance therapy

Group therapy (so long as you are able to trust the members enough to be vulnerable)

Empathy (it's not as easy as you think)

Writing down your trauma

Changing your daily practice

The Problem: there's a false idea that soldiers shouldn't talk about their problems.  It's a myth that kills.  But Conrad believed it.  So instead of talking to someone, he decided to hang himself.  If he’d still been drinking, he would have done it.  “I’d been sober 8 months, and that’s what saved my life.”

Candor saves lives.  Soldiers and sailors don't talk when they're hurting, because they think it’ll bring stigma.  It won’t.  It’ll save you. 

What would have helped him in his darkest moment?  Mentorship. Talking to a colleague who’d wrestled with suicide (a Survivor) would have given him the opportunity to be honest about his pain.  Survivors are underutilized resources.  "Often, the best resources don't cost anything, and they've been under your nose the entire time... Put me out there." 

 

Boxing.

Going to the gym to box meant finding a tribe again.  "It really saved me."

The lesson: You cannot fix yourself alone.

You need to take action.  You have to go out and reach out.  You can't sit back and wait for things to happen to you.

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Survivors are people who've attempted or contemplated suicide... and also those who've lost a loved one to it. Like Carol.

 

"I wish my son would have had someone like Monty and Conrad to talk to."

Too many people think courage just means being tough under fire, being individually resilient.  But there's more to it.  There's another kind of courage, the courage it takes to admit your pain.  And that's what we need more of.

People in the military are unwilling to admit pain and problems, for fear of demotion or career disruption (they're afraid of becoming tainted by a "diagnosis").  WE NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS FEAR, on a personal level and an institutional one.

A possible staring point: an identity-neutral, promotion-neutral resource where you can talk.

Carol shares what her son wrote in his note, and what we can learn from it.

 
 

...and why being a veteran Survivor is like being a race car driver. 

(Hint: there are certain problems and warning signs that only other race car drivers can see in each other, and a driver is more likely to go to the mechanic if a fellow driver recommends it.)

Once you join a group like a Survivor Cadre, "it's literally going to feel like a weight off your back."

When you walk in and join that group, "instantaneously, there is trust."

It'll help you realize that "You can change."

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