Involving People with Lived Experience
Until recently, the field of suicide prevention has rarely tapped the first-person knowledge of suicidal behaviour and real-world wisdom that suicide attempt survivors bring to the table. The field, along with health and behavioural health care organisations, is now beginning to engage the people with the most intimate information about suicidal thoughts, feelings, and actions—those who have lived through such experiences.
The Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention recently issued the report The Way Forward: Pathways to Hope, Recovery, and Wellness with Insights from Lived Experience. The report offers a set of core values to inform suicide prevention and care as well as specific recommendations for health and behavioural health care organisations and program developers.
For the organisation developing a Zero Suicide approach, one of the first actions should be to partner with people with lived experience in developing, implementing, and evaluating efforts. For example, a Zero Suicide Implementation Team should include at least one person with lived experience.
The Way Forward suggests several ways in which people with lived experience can be involved in improving suicide care:
- Suicide prevention and behavioural health care organisations can engage, hire, and/or collaborate with peer support professionals. They should also include attempt survivors as key partners in suicide prevention efforts
- Providers of crisis or emergency services can develop formal partnerships with organisations that offer peer support services and especially organisations that are operated or driven by people with lived experience
- Suicide prevention and behavioural health groups can engage attempt survivors as partners in developing, implementing, and evaluating efforts
- All types of providers can use a certified peer specialist on care coordination teams. This involvement can have direct benefits for a person receiving care, including role modelling and improved problem solving.(1)
(1) National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force. (2014). The way forward: Pathways to hope, recovery, and wellness with insights from lived experience. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org/sites/actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org/files/The-Way-Forward-Final-2014-07-01.pdf