Alternatives to Suicide Facilitators Training
Personal, lived experience, with thoughts or attempts of suicide is required for attendance as this is a peer-led model of support.
Please email Brandy Anderson-Willis at email@example.com to inquire about eligibility to attend.
Alternatives to Suicide (Alt2Su) is an alternative to risk assessment. Risk assessments move conversations about suicide in the direction of determining who will act on thoughts of suicide and how. Risk assessment questions include “Do you have a plan?” and “Do you have the means to carry out the plan”?
In the Alt2Su approach, instead of focusing on predicting a person’s behavior, our dialogue focuses on why they are having thoughts of suicide. Suicide itself is not framed as the problem, but understood to be the solution of a whole host of issues, such as rape culture, war, austerity, transphobia, etc. Conversations expand from why to also why not, meaning dialogue will often explore the reasons that people have chosen to stay in this world.
Alt2Su is an alternative to pathology. This de-medicalized approach looks beyond “chemical imbalance” or genetic explanations for suicide. Non-clinical, human experience language is used to explore the context of suicidal thoughts. For example, if someone says “I want to die because I feel worthless” instead of responding with “What pill are you taking for that?” we might ask “Did you receive this message that you are “worthless” from a person or experience in your life?” or “What makes a person worthy in your view?” or “Was there a time before you felt this way?”
The conversation is about looking at what events in a person’s life or prevailing social messages might be driving their thoughts, rather than searching for an internal biological problem.
Alt2Su is an alternative to coercion and force. We let go of trying to control behavior in the moment to focus on having a conversation, allowing the person to be heard and to consider what might make life more livable. An example of the current suicide prevention paradigm would be to remove musical instruments from a psychiatric unit because someone might hang themselves with a guitar string. An Alt2Su approach would let go of extreme “risk management measures” and instead use music as tool, while focusing on having conversations (or singing songs) about the pain that makes life difficult. This course provides 14 CEU for all who complete the course.
Funding for this course has been provided by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA).