Live Through This turned four this weekend! And appropriately enough, National Suicide Prevention Week started today!
I can honestly say that I'm shocked I stuck with a creative project (outside journaling) for as long as I have, especially given the extremely slow start LTT had—due in part to my own paralysis (perfectionism, lack of appropriate gear, fear of what others might think, fear of doing more harm than good) and the fact that people often looked at me like I had two heads when I'd tell them what I was up to (because who wants to talk about suicide?).
When I did finally get over my paralysis, I threw all caution to the wind. I took my camera—the money for which was loaned to me specifically to get this project started (thank you, if you're reading)—and my iPhone's voice recorder, and I got to work. I didn't feel I had all the proper gear or that I knew exactly what I was going to do or how to do it, but I realized that fear was what was holding me back, and if I just went ahead and did it, I would learn as I went and it would grow organically as I did so. I had such high hopes.
I'm so happy it did stick and that I pushed on through the difficulties because I've met so many incredible people: the bravest attempt survivors, willing to put themselves on the line and tell their stories to help others like us who need to know that they're not alone; the most passionate advocates and mental health professionals dedicated to making real, tangible change; and supporters of every stripe, who've followed loyally, who've encouraged me to keep going, and who continue to spread the word every day.
Those high hopes are being realized. People are paying attention. The stories of 103 suicide attempt survivors (myself included) across the country are proving that suicide is not a nameless, faceless killer that affects a certain type of person. It affects everyone. And if we just band together—like we are—we can teach people how to talk about it, what to do when someone we care about is suicidal, what the resources are. We can create new resources. We can change laws that are obsolete and inhumane. We can save lives.
This started out as an art project, but it's become so much more. It is a hub for grassroots advocacy (one story at a time). It's an honest source of hope (no platitudes necessary). It's a community. It's evolved into those things, and it will continue to grow and change, because I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
Now I have even higher hopes for Live Through This: I want to continue presenting at universities and conferences—not just during September, but throughout the year, because suicide affects all of us every single day. I want to build a mobile multimedia installation to take to universities and community centers. I want to release video footage. I want to start a podcast. I want to develop a socially and fiscally accessible suicide prevention training for all ages. I want to write a book. I want to partner with scientists to see what we can learn through the stories of attempt survivors. And that's what's just rolling around in my head right now.
So, thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping so many of us live through this day and every one that comes after it.
If you like the project and have a couple of extra bucks, would you consider making a quick, one-time donation? Alternately, if you'd like to support LTT on a a regular basis, there's also the option of becoming a patron via Patreon, where you essentially donate on a per-portrait/story basis (no more than 1-2 stories monthly at a dollar amount set by you—more info on the site). No bueno? There are t-shirts, tote bags, and necklaces for sale over in the LTT store. But if you're broke, I totally understand (I am too). Maybe you can follow the project on Facebook or Twitter, and leave nice comments for the amazing attempt survivors who share their stories here. Your support means the world, however it chooses to dress itself.
Thanks again, for everything, and don't forget to watch the website, because I'm going to be debuting a story every day in honor of Suicide Prevention Week!