As I imagined this website, I realized that I don't have my story of working in suicide prevention writen down in one place. Which seemed like a disservice to the impact that the work had on my life. So here it is, my suicide prevention journey on my own damn page.
I've worked in suicide prevention since I was 23. Just out of graduate school, I applied for a "Techical Assistance Specialist" job at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. I applied for the wrong job. I was interested in and had training in instructional design and emotional intelligence. But I wasn't qualified for a job doing public health TA, especially at a national level. Dr. David Litts took a chance though, and what he got was a kid who was passionate, eager to learn and often just not that good at his job. The SPRC was the first large scale national suicide prevention effort. While I was there I helped organize nascent statewide coalitions, hosted the first regional suicide prevention gathering - essentially kickstarting the recommended actions defined in the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
After a year there, I moved back to New York and ran into Dr. John Draper at a suicide prevention event. I was brought on to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as their fouth hire. Social media was going mainstream and I got a call from the community manager at a newer site called Facebook. He was concerned for thier users who expressed suicidality on their platform. Together we figured out a way to make sure those users got help from a trained crisis counselor while also maintaining the users' privacy. This was the basis of what is now a large scale international effort to keep suicidal users safe on social media. I can go into more detail about it over a coffee or during a talk, because those early stages are still fascinating to me.
I know there's so much to do still. Death rates are up, attempt rates accross the lifecourse are increasing, and still people are working to help people in their hardest times.