People with lived experience provide valuable insights into suicide prevention initiatives. The personal experience and understanding of their journey can guide prevention planning, treatment, and education and contribute to improved care and enhanced safety to reduce suicide attempts and deaths. Those with lived experience can provide hope and resilience to those at risk of suicide and support those in their recovery journey.
People with lived or living experience of suicide are those who have experienced suicidal thoughts, survived a suicide attempt, cared for someone through a suicidal crisis, been bereaved by suicide or having a loved one who has died by suicide, acknowledging that this experience is significantly different and takes into consideration Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ ways of understanding social and emotional wellbeing.
Those with lived experience can contribute to and enhance community understanding of suicide and its impacts. They are strong advocates to include in suicide prevention planning and help reduce stigma and improve knowledge within the Australian public.
Value and respect for the diversity of experience
The Indigenous experience
The lived experience of suicide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is inherently different to that of non-Indigenous people. Differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures, such as how mental ill-health is conceptualised and perceived, intergenerational trauma and power imbalances play a role in shaping the Indigenous lived experience of suicide.
A lived experience recognises the effects of ongoing negative historical impacts and or specific events on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It encompasses the cultural, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual, family or community.
Where can I go to find out more about lived experience or be connected with lived experience speakers?
A lead organisation representing the lived experience of suicide in Australia, Roses in the Ocean focuses on building a safe, trained and supported Lived Experience Workforce with the expertise and skills to bring about change in all aspects of suicide prevention. This is done through conducting capacity building workshops and training opportunities for people with a lived experience of suicide.
The Roses in the Ocean Lived Experience Collective comprises lived experience champions across Australia who are equipped with the expertise and skills needed to bring their lived experience as a voice of change in all aspects of suicide prevention.
SANE Peer Ambassador Program
Link with SANE Australia to become an ambassador, book someone for your upcoming event or project and see how SANE Peer Ambassadors raise awareness of mental illness.
Beyond Blue Speakers Bureau
The sharing of personal stories of anxiety and depression is a powerful means of raising awareness, reducing stigma and encouraging people to take action. Beyond Blue’s Speakers are members of the community who volunteer their time to speak about their experience, raise awareness of depression and anxiety and reduce stigma.
Suicide Prevention Australia Lived Experience Panel
Panel members participate in: Providing input into the development of policy and policy document review; Participation in committees; Training/conference/webinars; Providing input into suicide prevention service design.
Iris Foundation speakers
Iris Foundation partnered with Suicide Prevention Australia to train seven speakers to share messages of hope and impart practical ways to prevent suicide in the community. Participants with a lived experience of suicide took part in an intensive two-day training workshop.
The importance of supporting people with lived experience
Everymind Director, Dr Jaelea Skehan OAM explains why it is so important that we prioritise supporting and giving voice to those with lived experience.
Dr Jaelea Skehan OAM
“Suicide impacts our families, schools, workplaces and communities every single day. It is important that those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts do not feel alone and unable to talk about what is going on for them. It is also important that those bereaved or impacted by suicide get the support of others as they navigate complex grief. We know that many people in the community want to do more to prevent suicide, but research has shown that many people are unsure how to start and are also worried about making things worse by talking about suicide.”