The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Research, Policy and Practice

By Rory C. O’Connor; Jane Pirkis | Go to book overview

38
Suicide Prevention
Through Personal Experience

DeQuincy A. Lezine


Introduction and Terminology

In this chapter, I draw upon the research literature, as well as experiential knowledge as a scholar in suicide prevention and being a suicide attempt survivor. For the purposes of this chapter, a suicidal experience is defined as an experience that includes internal phenomena related to self-directed and potentially fatal actions. This can include suicidal thinking or ideation (i.e., primarily internal verbal experience) as well as a range of mental or emotional occurrences (e.g., suicidal imagery, sensory memory of touch or taste that is linked to past suicidal behaviors). This definition may differ from others in this text as it is driven by descriptions from persons who have experienced such phenomena first hand.

When suicidal experiences lead to changes in behavior, or cause intense distress for an extended period, it is called a suicidal crisis. A suicide attempt is defined as a specific act within a suicidal crisis that is associated with some intent to die. Someone who made a suicide attempt that was not fatal is described as a suicide attempt survivor. A death by suicide is an attempt with a fatal outcome. The person with lived experience has himself or herself lived through a suicidal crisis. Someone whose primary connection to suicidal crisis is based on social ties has crisis experience. Many times individuals with lived experience share common ground with those who have crisis experience. Thus, personal experience is used as a broad term that encompasses both groups. The term suicide prevention is used as an abbreviated version of work related to suicide that could include, among other things, seeking to understand, treat, prevent, or recover from effects connected to suicidal experiences.


How Do You Measure the Impact of Personal
Experience on Suicide Prevention?

The impact of a personal experience can be divided into two categories: the first is a time-limited force that alters a person’s life trajectory. The second is a sustained force that becomes part of a person’s life.

The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention, Second Edition. Edited by Rory C. O’Connor and Jane Pirkis. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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