A how-to?

Some of you have started writing in, and I appreciate it. Here’s a comment from Corinna West, who is a motivational speaker, poet, former member of the 1996 Olympic judo team and more. She’s also been open about her suicide attempts. 

“My thought is that when I was trying to exit the planet, I would have just used this blog as a how to,” Corinna says. 

“I would have thought, well, now I know better than to do this or that. Lots of people tried to scare me, and that always went nowhere. Also, lots of prevention research shows that health education about many topics such as drinking, HIV, pregnancy, smoking, etc. is not very effective with scare tactics. Better effects have been found with social norming, like, ‘67% of students drink three or less drinks when they go out’ or ‘78% of students use condoms when they have sex.'”

Here is her site: corinnawest.com

I went to the national conference of the American Association of Suicidology this spring to meet other attempt survivors and speak up in some sessions. When I brought up the idea of warning suicidal people about the risks they were taking in their attempts, a few people who work in counseling and crisis lines responded immediately. We don’t talk about methods, they said. It’s too dangerous.

That’s a different idea from Corinna’s, but the common concern is giving people the details they can use to refine their methods.

What do you think? For my part, this blog isn’t going to dissect specific methods and their chances. Some people out there, notably and graphically the author Geo Stone, are doing this. (Others are anonymous. Why?) I recall one of Kay Redfield Jamison’s books listing what seemed like dozens of desperately creative, and often unsuccessful, ways in which people have tried to kill themselves.

As a survivor and as no expert in medicine or otherwise, I’m more for the broad but firm statement: Nothing is foolproof. Our bodies can be so much more resilient than we think. And that goes even more for the young. 

Picking apart various methods or even showing images of what people have done to themselves and survived would take this blog off course, I think. 

This is a place to talk without drama from any direction, without scare tactics or the swell of sentimental music or the hush of talking about something Very Formal and Important. 

This is for exploring where we are and where we’ve been, and for reminding people that surviving a suicide attempt is just one of plenty of experiences that have defined and shaped our lives.

By the way, if you write in, feel free to share more about yourself than your experience alone. Who are you and who are we at large?

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