Lived Experience in Suicide Prevention Research

Lived Experience in Suicide Prevention Research

In the past people who were acutely
suicidal or actively suicidal or who even had a history of a prior suicide
attempt were systematically excluded from treatment trials and so we
developed this entire literature, for example, on anti-depressants about what
works for depressed people who are not suicidal. It was those of us who were
doing research who wanted to do intervention trials to see what worked
for suicidal individuals that stepped up and said you know we really need to find
out, not just work what works in depression for non-suicidal, but what works specifically for people who are suicidal We’ve often heard from families who lost
somebody to suicide added to that voice now are people with lived experience,
people who’ve attempted survived, who can tell us a little bit more about their
trajectories and their experience with health care and how we can improve
things. How cancer has had better survival rates, how HIV now perhaps as a
treatment, all those came from investments that were demanded by
patients. Now with some funding from AFSP, one
of the things that we have done is to much more deeply integrate people who
themselves have lived experience of suicidal thinking or suicide attempts
into our research team. That’s been a real eye-opener to us. This is a challenging area to work in. We really have to be very mindful and respectful of each individual’s
experience. We do a lot of work on outreach interventions. Up until a few
years ago there certainly were people with lived experience of suicidal
thoughts who were involved in this research but
they often were not out about it and I think that’s been a really important
development in terms of even some people who are researchers in the field
being out about their own experience but also the idea that having people with
that lived experience on research teams is a key asset.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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