My name is Dese'Rae L. Stage. I'm a photographer, writer, and suicide awareness activist.
In December 2005, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at East Tennessee State University, where I was an undergraduate research associate in Dr. Chris Dula's Applied Psychology Lab. I'm trained in various crisis intervention techniques. And the camera? Self-taught.
I struggled with self-injury for nine years, and survived a suicide attempt catalyzed by an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2004. It is these experiences, coupled with the loss of friends to suicide and a lack of resources for attempt survivors, that prompted me to start working on Live Through This.
In February 2013, I raised $23,000 via Kickstarter to take the project on the road. As of August 2016, I've photographed 166 suicide attempt survivors in 28 US cities.
Live Through This has been covered by the New York Times, Associated Press, Upworthy, NPR, and more. I've spoken about the project at universities and conferences nationwide. I've provided commentary on various radio and TV programs (including the Glenn Beck Program). Recent achievements include winning the inaugural Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest and being named New Yorker of the Week by NY1 News. I've even told my story onstage to a room full of science enthusiasts while violently ill.
My writing has been published in Cosmopolitan, xoJane, and Huffington Post.
You can download my full CV here.
I live in Philadelphia with my wife (a fellow Miami native) and various furry creatures. You can see more of my work at deseraestage.com.
PS: That is, indeed, a rat on my shoulder. Ratter Garcia, in fact. She left us in the summer of 2014. She was a great pet (rats are kinda like dogs—are you surprised?), and we miss her dearly. Got your attention, didn't it?