ETSU alumna champions education to better suicide prevention
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 21:02
A suicide survivor is attempting to curb the rate of suicide through education.
According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third highest cause of death in ages 15-24.
Dese’Rae Stage, ETSU psychology graduate, photographer and suicide attempt survivor, is trying to do something about that with her portrait series “Live Through This.”
“It is possible to curb the loss of life to suicide, and I think the easiest way to start doing that is for all of us — not just the mental health specialists — to learn to talk about it instead of being fearful of it,” Stage said.
Stage’s “Live Through This” collection is a website dedicated to sharing stories and portraits of suicide attempt survivors. Stage hopes that these real personal accounts will unveil the dark nature of suicide and encourage survivors to own their experiences publicly. But that hasn’t come so easy.
“Suicide is an incredibly difficult topic for most people to face head on, even those in the field of psychology,” Stage said. “I have plenty of stories of doors closing in my face the moment I mentioned the word [suicide].
“It happened often enough that I took some time away and thought a lot about coming at it from a different angle — one that would appeal to people at the most basic level.”
Stage said that during this time she got the idea to go straight to the source: suicide attempt survivors.
She wanted to portray these survivors in an artful, humanistic manner that may break down the barriers she kept facing, she said.
She began interviewing survivors about the experiences they faced, taking a portrait of them and publishing an excerpt of the survivor’s story on the website.
Stage believes that the honesty that comes from the portraits and stories gives viewers a power to set fears aside and talk about the controversial topic, especially if they believe a loved one may be suicidal.
Stage currently has photographed survivors in the New York area, but has had over 100 suicide attempt survivors across the country offer to share their stories with her.
In the wake of this, the photographer has launched a kickstarter campaign, Live Through This, to raise funds to take the project on the road.
In the first 24 hours of the campaign, she raised over one-third of her goal. But since kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, if Stage does not raise the entirety of her funding goal within 30 days, she will receive no funds.
You can contribute to Stage’s cause by visiting http://bit.ly/livethroughthis. You can view the “Live Through This” collection at http://livethroughthis.org.
“I think the world needs this in light of the massive media coverage on suicide of late,” Stage said.
“We don’t see enough helpful information about how we might prevent the suicide of a loved one, and we certainly aren’t seeing real people talking about their experiences with suicide attempts and how they dealt with the aftermath.”