The Light Across the Water
I got back from the 49th annual American Association of Suicidology conference on Saturday, and I’m so inspired and exhausted that I can barely see straight. It was my third AAS conference. I’ve gained such an incredible family from the connections I’ve made there over the past three years that, when I come home, I end up with an emotional hangover for a week because I only get to see them all in one place once a year, and when we go, we go hard.
I was involved with FIVE different presentations this year: one based on research being done based on Live Through This with my amazing research partners out of Kentucky and Tennessee (you can see key points/slides in the Storify here); one on how to tell your story of lived experience with Amelia Lehto, a storyteller, and Kelley Clink, author of A Different Kind of Same; an interdivisional panel on stigma with leaders in the Clinical and Research Divisions of AAS; a panel on how lived experience can inform clinical practice with Dr. Nina Gutin and Dr. David Jobes; and, finally, the one that kept me scared shitless for weeks, a TED-style talk I did on the main stage in front of 1,100 people.
And it’s the not-TED (above) that brings me to you right now, because I wanted to share it with you. I was nervous and the audio is kinda wonky and we have plenty of technical difficulties, but this feels like one of the biggest things I’ve ever done. It’s a story about my mom, a story about music, a story about the power of stories, a story about how each of us has the power to save lives. My amazing friend Misha Kessler helped me capture it, and I taught myself iMovie today so I could cut in the slides for y’all to see. I hope you like it.
Art courtesy Tim Pangburn
On another note, if you’re in Philly (or nearby!) and like suicide prevention, tattoos, and art (or some combination thereof), you should probably be aware that I’m partnering with Art Machine Productions on an event happening May 6th—a good day for various reasons, one being that it’s my 33rd birthday! Huzzah! Each artist in the shop will be creating their own flash sheet of hopeful imagery (think swallows, lighthouses, anchors, ampersands—who knows what else they’ll come up with!), and each tattoo will cost between $50-150. Tattoos happen from 10am-6pm, then we break for an hour, and there’s an art show from 7-10pm. All art will be [affordably] priced to sell. We’ll have refreshments and good music, and I’ll be around to chat and hang out. All proceeds from this event go to Live Through This.
Off to Oklahoma City early tomorrow morning for the Oklahoma Suicide Prevention Conference. I’ll be giving a keynote (Iris Bolton will be the other keynote speaker) and a workshop on using social media for suicide prevention. Oh, and I’ll be collecting the stories of 3 more suicide attempt survivors in the area.
As always, thank you guys so much for your support. It means the world to me to continue to be able to do this work.
PS: I also published a piece on xoJane about suicide rates being highest in spring. While there’s some personal stuff in there, it was meant to be a PSA—please share widely.
PPS: #STAY shirts are around (yes, again) for another 3 days. You can get one here.
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