Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Photo original
Live Through This is a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, as told by those survivors.
593 backers pledged $22,887 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

Photos

5f31871ee0e7b6912fd691d73c909ce9 original
9630cf36e256205b3053eae6d2713f77 original
D6156861d605c89c7a046965d660afc4 original
776756d1a368b536082e09666397d3a0 original
1e6609e64561cdfe279047334e34d656 original
F3fc2f99f76a90eb5636b3e53a3fd35f original
04f8f41b156d629d35e34ff3ee812252 original
D9c4788ec6941fe1acbfdadb1a9763c8 original
8f18a744f76ce0235e699ae9e4d2d74f original
F08128bf0ec2e1f1d1043424dcd0f57c original

It's Been Awhile...

5 likes

Hi everybody,

It's been quite awhile, but I wanted to write an update because the past two weeks have been incredible! I collected 11 stories in Boston, where I stayed in a giant brownstone that my friends at the Neurocognition of Language Lab (who were in town for a conference) were gracious enough to let me work out of. After that, I was home for an eventful day, where there was a secret photo shoot (secret then, anyway) and I photographed Martina McBride for an intimate show to promote her new album, Everlasting.

Secret photo shoot!
Secret photo shoot!
Martina McBride!
Martina McBride!

I flew out to LA the next day for the 47th annual conference of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). That was a doozy.

The first day, the AAS announced that they'd created a new sixth division for suicide attempt survivors and those with lived experience of suicidal thoughts. There was quite a bit of lobbying behind the scenes to make this happen, and I'm so glad it did. It's one step toward busting stigma and having our voices heard in terms of our treatment, among other things. 

They also announced the creation of a national Speakers Bureau, on which I was chosen as an inaugural member of the lived experience division! All the while, the social media team was hard at work creating content. That was exciting, exhausting, and so much fun—we were all fast friends.

And the panel... mind blowing. It's hard to describe what happened in that room. The four of us (myself, Samantha Nadler, Misha Kessler, and Craig Miller) sat up in front, with our backs to the audience. I was sitting next to Samantha. She'd turn around every few minutes to see more and more people in the room, and she'd smack me on the leg and say something like, "Holy crap!" I was too nervous to look. Eventually, the room was packed—standing room only.

I went first. I'd just finished my talk the night before and I was so nervous that I shook the entire time I was speaking, but I felt (and feel) really good about it. LTT portraits were cycling through the entire session, and we all got standing ovations in the end. People hooted and hollered for us like they were at a concert, which you'll get to experience if you listen to the audio or watch the video (below). By the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The feeling that we were finally being heard in a place we hadn't been heard before, that there was solidarity there, and that we'd just made history, was palpable. I still get the chills when I think about it.

Lisa Klein and Doug Blush (Madpix), the makers of Of Two Minds, a fantastic documentary about bipolar disorder, spent a good amount of time chasing us around for a new documentary on survivors of suicide (loss and attempt survivors alike), too. They were kind enough to film the panel for us.

Somewhere in the middle of all the madness, I went to Van Nuys to record an episode of Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin. That man is a force, and an intense prober of minds. I'm excited to hear the episode, but it isn't likely to be out for a long while.

The last couple of days I was in LA, I collected another 7 stories (bringing the grand total to 85 so far). Here's a video of a portion of Shayda Kafai's interview. We spent a lot of time talking about semantics.

The day I got home, magic happened (and the secret was revealed). The New York Times published an article about the momentum the attempt survivor movement is gaining, and I got to be their cover girl. In it, Carey identifies the ways in which the system fails attempt survivors, how we have historically been silenced, and some of the ways in which we're pushing back. This gave us a huge platform to spread the word and raise awareness. 

On that note, it's so wonderful to share that platform with people like Heidi Bryan, Leah Harris, John Draper, and Eduardo Vega, who have been out there working tirelessly to fight indifference to, or hostility against, attempt survivors for years. They blazed a trail for me to follow, and I feel lucky to even be included. Things are finally changing and this article is proof. It's a great start, but not perfect, by any means.

There's also been a bit of coverage in the Washington Post and Association Now, if you want to take a look.

Since I'm in the business of raising awareness, I'd like to quickly point out that describing the methodology of a suicide attempt is always a bad plan (it's sensationalistic and unproductive), and use of the word "commit" comes with some pretty hefty implications. The SPRC has set forth some great guidelines for media reporting on suicide here. Worth having a look at. 

The other night, after I got home from LA, my girlfriend and I sat down with a couple glasses of wine and we toasted to one another's recent successes. I'm paraphrasing, but she said something like, "This moment is important, but what's more important is that you kept going way back when, when so few people cared, but when you knew and believed that the project was so important that you couldn't stop, even when it felt lonely."

This feels like a pivotal moment for the project (and the movement on the whole), and I want to thank all of the many, many people who have supported me thus far. Thanks to: every single person who has shared their story and their voice to help break the silence; Michelle and Bonnie Crawford-Bewley for lending me the money to buy a proper camera with which to do the damn thing; Lisa Lombardo for guidance; Felicidad Garcia for inspiration, patience, constant volleying of ideas, and more guidance; Helen Hedberg and Cat Downs for hours and hours of interview transcription; Monica Orta for her mad management skillz; Emily Lupsor for PR help; Lisa Klein for believing/poking/prodding and caring enough to make a film about it all; April Foreman, Bill Schmitz, Jr., Cara Anna, and Leah Harris for mentoring me (even though the party's just getting started); Paul and Tom at Postcardly; Austin at Print Peppermint; my fellow panelists at AAS (Samantha Nadler, Misha Kessler, Craig Miller); my social media team buddies from AAS (Tony Wood, Ursula Whiteside, Keris Myrick, Quintin Hunt); every single one of the people who supported and/or promoted the Kickstarter campaign in any way; and anyone else I may have left out because I'm exhausted. 

And finally, almost ALL of the backer rewards have been sent out. All that's left to ship is prints for international backers. If you aren't an international backer and haven't received your reward, please be sure to let me know.

I can't believe it's already been a year! Thanks for everything. Truly.

—Des

Fall Update

5 likes

Hi everybody!

It's officially fall! The leaves are already starting to fall off the trees, I've broken out the hoodies, and Starbucks (or Caribou, or your favorite local coffee haunt) has broken out the PSLs--that's pumpkin spice lattes, for those of you who aren't hip to the lingo.

I just have a few housecleaning updates for you. I'll try to keep it quick.

For those who donated at the $35 level and chose a tote bag as your reward, you should be receiving them any day now. 

I sent out the first batch of tees yesterday. I should have the rest of them out by the end of next week, at the latest.

As your swag comes in, post a photo of yourself with it on Facebook or tweet it! If you want to friend me on Facebook so I can see, I can be found here. The Live Through This page is here. To follow me on Twitter, I'm here and here.

I'm sending along a few extras in each package. If you feel so inclined, would you disperse them throughout your neighborhood or pass them along to someone you think might be interested in the project?

Reward talk aside, I have good news and bad news:

+ The talks at UT and MIT went great! I even got to meet a bunch of backers who were so kind as to come out and support me. It was amazing being able to talk to--and, in some cases, hug--so many of you. If you think your local university or advocacy group might benefit from a talk on Live Through This/suicide awareness and happen to have a connection, send me an email (des@livethroughthis.org), would ya?

- Due to housing and scheduling issues, I've had to postpone the Chicago trip. I'll try again next summer or so. Fingers crossed!

That's all I've got. Hope you're all well.

Bundle up,
Des

National Suicide Prevention Week (and Reward Update)

Hi everyone:

Long time, no talk. I hope you're all well. Since my last update, I've visited both D.C. and Raleigh. I'm finalizing plans for Chicago this week. So far, I've collected 53 portraits and stories in 4 different cities.

For those of you in Austin or Boston: I will be speaking about the project at UT Austin on Tuesday, 9/24, from 6:30 to 8pm, and at MIT on Monday, 9/30, time TBD. For more details, email me at des@livethroughthis.org.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. In recognition of that, I will be posting one story a day, through Friday. The stories you’ll be reading this week come from attempt survivors on both coasts who, cumulatively, demonstrate a depth and breadth of experience.

I'm opening the week with Eris Discordia's story. She's an attempt survivor who, many years after her own attempt, lost her mother to suicide. I met her when I went to Raleigh to collect stories and portraits. She opened her home to myself and several other survivors so we'd have somewhere comfortable to do this hard work. She fed us and watered us, and I'm so grateful to have met her. Her story is incredible. Take a look.

BACKER REWARD UPDATE: I'm sure many of you are wondering where your rewards are. I'm happy to tell you that most of them are safe in boxes in my bedroom. I'm gathering shipping supplies and hope to have them out by the end of November. I realize that this is three months later than my intended delivery date, but I severely misjudged the amount of support this project would receive. In short: you guys are amazing (please be patient with me)!

That's that! Please be sure to check in on the site over the course of the week. You might read a story that really resonates. As always, please share. The more people who know that it's okay to talk about suicide, the more lives saved.

-Dese'Rae

LTT: DC Edition + Updates

Hi everyone! 

The weather in New York has been pretty intensely indecisive lately. It's hot, then it's cold, then it's raining, then it's not. It's madness. I'm so excited to step away from it for a moment, and looking forward to taking LTT down to our nation's capital this weekend.

Eight amazing humans have agreed to share their stories with me over the course of Saturday and Sunday. Sahar Sarshar will be working with me to film stories in and around the National Mall on Sunday. If you're not familiar with Sahar, she's the amazing filmmaker behind the Iranian series Zir Zameen, or "underground," about underground artists and activists. Live Through This is featured in episode 6, below.

The Meet & Greet goes down Saturday night at Cause (1926 9th St NW) from 8pm until whenever. If you don't know about Cause, it's a philanthropub, meaning that they donate all profit to a rotating list of awesome organizations that deserve our attention. Currently, they are: Life Pieces to Masterpieces, One Acre Fund, and Year Up. Check 'em out. There's food and drink, good causes to support and good people to support them with. Come on out if you're in DC! 

After I return from DC, I'm going to take a month off to travel (Cambodia!) and do a little self care, so the site and Facebook page might go quiet for a bit. I've got a few ideas up my sleeve, and need some time to consider how to put them out into the world in the most appropriate way. When I return, I'll start scheduling interviews for Raleigh (8/16-8/20). Note: Boston has been moved to April 2014.

Just last week, Lori Baird put together an amazing inaugural edition of Talk Therapy, a storytelling show here in New York, to benefit LTT. Ed Gavagan (The Moth, TED), Susannah Cahalan (author of NYT bestseller Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness), and John Flynn (Upright Citizens Brigade) shared some of their incredible stories, and I talked a bit about how LTT came to be. The whole shebang raised over $400, which I already have plans for, but I'm not going to tell you what they are just yet--don't want to jinx anything. I'll try and get some of that material up for you guys to consume ASAP.

Before I wrap this up, in case you missed it, I was on BBC World Have Your Say talking about suicide back in early June. It was one of the more productive conversations backed by a large media entity that I've been able to take part in thus far. You can have a listen here.

Again, as always, thank you so much for caring, contributing, and getting the word out.

-Dese'Rae

It's a fine day for an update!

Hello!

I write this missive from my couch in Brooklyn, where I'm busy being sick as a dog. The weather's starting to get warm in New York, I'm wishing I could go have a beer in a park or something, and I hope you're all wonderful. 

Two big updates today:

1. We got a two page spread in the June 2013 Pride issue of Curve Magazine! Get thee to your local magazine seller and grab a copy (this is on my to-do list).

2. I sat down the other night and blocked out tentative "tour dates" for the project. I'm listing them below, so get excited (!), but please note that they're subject to change. 

June 22-24, 2013: DC
August 2013: Boston/Raleigh
October 2013: Chicago
November 2013: Austin
January 2014: Miami/Orlando
February 2014: Seattle
March 2014: LA
April 2014: Norfolk
May 2014: Philadelphia
June 2014: Minneapolis
August 2014: Portland/Eugene

Last but not least, if you haven't looked at the site in awhile, you may have missed that there are three stories from the San Francisco area posted already! Patty, Jaime, and Pablo all have incredible stories. Go take a look. I'm trying to stick to a schedule of about one story a week, so keep your eyes peeled.

As always, thank you for reading and for your support. I couldn't have done this without you.

-Dese'Rae