Survivor Cadre Roundtable
Suicide survivors discussing what causes the darkness, and what dispels it
A NEW WEAPON AGAINST SUICIDE / A NEW KIND OF PEER GROUP
Survivor Cadre Roundtables are different because the people who are center stage are those who’ve actually wrestled with suicide themselves. By sharing their experience and speaking publicly, these Survivors can help disrupt suicide by:
providing hope for sufferers, from a trusted source
giving sufferers (who are isolated) the confidence to break their silence and admit their pain. They can see there is no stigma. There is no shame. You can talk. You're not alone.
providing a treasure trove of firsthand insight into what tools and techniques have actually helped them survive suicide.
...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.)
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
Since he left the military, he's had "pretty much a 16-year transition." And he's "still in it."
What's the cause of his brokenness? "I've been broken since six and a half. Am I fixed? Not quite."
The game changer: becoming a Special Olympics ski instructor.
How can a blind person ski down a mountain?
The answer to that question is full of life lessons.
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."
What if we could change the way we talk to each other? Instead of putting forward just the great things in our lives, what if we could share the truth?
Healing would be easier. Because admitting our problems would be easier.
When we cover up our problems, and hide them behind our glossy resumé, that's when the trouble starts.
Candor saves lives. And Conrad lets us see what candor looks like. (Conrad's name is even an anagram of candor).
Going to the gym to box meant finding a tribe again. "It really saved me."
You cannot fix yourself alone.
Insight: You need to make an effort... to take action... you must go out and reach out. You can't sit back and wait for things to happen to you.
A Survivor, in the role of mentor, who could have given him permission to admit his pain, and the opportunity to break down, to be honest. "It took failure to say, Man I would have wanted that opportunity."
Instead, because of ego and the need to appear squared away, soldiers and sailors don't talk when they're hurting. They just say, "Hooah, I'm good."
Not enough attention is being paid to spouses of the deployed. They suffer. They are subject to the pressures of substance abuse and despair, too.
Those among us who've made mistakes, or had brokenness... they're the ones who can speak (as mentors) about it to other folks who don't know it's O.K. to talk about their troubles.
"Often, the best resources don't cost anything, and they've been under your nose the entire time."
"Put me out there and let me talk about my problems."
Survivors are people who've attempted or contemplated suicide... and also those who've lost a loved one to it. Like Carol.
"I wish Matt would have had someone like Monty and Conrad to talk to."
- Carol, July 2020
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.
But people in the military are unwilling to admit pain and problems, for fear of demotion or career disruption (they fear 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.
The first year is just learning how to breathe again. And learning how to be ready for dealing with people... dealing with "the look."