Beavers, Navy SEALs, and Lived Experience
One of the things that beavers are best known for is their dam building. With teeth and paws and a strong tail those little engineers topple trees and stop rivers. It doesn't have to be complicated to be effective. Sometimes all it takes is a small and committed group with the right tools and resources to get the job done.
Navy SEALs are known for a more lethal trade craft. Yet, a full SEAL platoon only has 16 members, and most of the time they split into teams with just 4-8 members. However, I don't think anyone would question the capabilities of those teams. It doesn't take large numbers to be effective. A small and committed group with the right skills and resources can accomplish amazing things.
The Attempt Survivor and Lived Experience Division is the smallest division within AAS. Yet, we promote suicide prevention in social media, print media, television, radio, podcasts, and live events. We partner with colleagues to help interpret and apply suicide research, to raise awareness in the community, to support our crisis centers, to combat stigma, and to foster peer support. We are a small and committed group that brings skills and tools to the table. However, what has often been missing is the resources.
We would like to have a digital newsletter that spotlights the great community-based work we're engaged in and affords the opportunity to attract new partners for support as well as evaluation or research. We would like to develop regional conferences that give those who can't travel to the national meeting a chance to connect with each other and foster relationships with members of other divisions who are based in the same area. We would also like to offer scholarships for emerging professionals with lived experience to be able to attend the national conference.
These are some of the substantial changes we're pursuing and they have many challenges, but none that can't be overcome by a small group with the right skills, tools, and resources.
As we get closer to the end of the year many of us will be taking the time to socialize with friends and family, to engage in quiet reflection, or perhaps both. We express thanks for the supportive people in our lives now, the people who had a positive impact on us in the past, and the future that we are able to build. I sincerely appreciate my friends, colleagues, and peers who are doing this hard work. I also know that some of us wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for that therapist who knew how to help, or that crisis counselor who answered that call at two in the morning, or that one person who believed that suicide was preventable. Thus, I am thankful to them for helping us get through those dark times.
I donate to multiple charities supporting causes that range from building schools and drinking wells in developing countries to rescuing dogs in my hometown. Yet, I probably wouldn't be here able to donate to those organizations if there was no suicide prevention. I give to AAS because I believe in our mission, and because it requires resources to achieve the mission. On this Giving Tuesday I hope you'll join me in supporting AAS with a donation.
With thanks and warm wishes,
Chair, Attempt Survivor and Lived Experience Division of AAS