Wanna Hire Me to Speak?
Wanna Hire Me to Speak?
What You Can Expect From My Keynotes:
In a series of “snapshots,” I share my experiences with suicidal thoughts, and sometimes more, over the course of my lifetime. I cover family dynamics and the teenage years—the difficult transition from middle to high school, questioning my sexuality; an abusive relationship; divorce; infertility; and how suicidal thoughts cropped up in each. I show the audience a living portrait reflecting recent CDC findings indicating that suicide is a response to adversity, rather than mental illness as a singular cause. I walk my audiences down the path that led me to Live Through This, and I bring the voices of other attempt survivors with me using portraits, quotations, and video, taking the audience into interviews with me. I discuss major themes that crop up in the stories of survivors, along with the impact the project has made in a number of contexts. I implore listeners to open their hearts and their minds to those of us who have literally lived through it, and provide incontrovertible evidence that suicide affects all of us. Audiences can expect a talk that will be revealing, often touching, always honest and, ultimately, hopeful. (My wife wrote that part for me, y’all.)
Want to see what I’ve done and where I’ve been? You can download my CV here.
I’ve been working in suicidology and suicide prevention for a decade, and my lived experience spans most of my life. I’m a suicide attempt survivor, a suicide loss survivor, I’ve seen the aftermath of a public suicide, and I’m someone with lived experience of self-injury. I’m an active member of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers, the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury, and the Critical Suicide Studies Network—though I do most of my volunteer work with AAS. I’ve helped write media reporting guidelines for journalists, consulted on Broadway shows and NIH-funded apps for suicidal people that will be used in emergency rooms and artificial intelligence apps to help train clinicians on how to better work with suicidal people, reviewed proposals for the American Association of Suicidology annual conference for several years, served as co-chair of the Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Competition in 2020, and I produce and co-host a video podcast called Suicide ‘n’ Stuff.
I center my lived experience in everything I do. I’m always thinking of the person experiencing suicidal thoughts or crisis from a first-person perspective, so the things I have to say about treatment or hospitalization often fly in the face of the established narrative because people with lived experience have never been consulted about how these things affect them. This has to do with society’s general attitudes toward “mentally ill” and suicidal people being lesser than, or lacking insight, or the capacity to make their own decisions or know what’s best for them. The perspective I bring to my work is not what you will hear in mainstream suicide prevention. It’s informed by lived experience, and it’s informed by a healthy skepticism of a mental health system with a long history of abuses. I view suicide as a social justice issue and ask folks to think critically about anything and everything they think they know about suicide and suicide prevention. My goal is always to elevate lived experience and broaden the scope of our collective body of knowledge around suicide.
Dese’Rae Stage has a story to tell you, and trust me, you’ll want to listen. With her personal story of surviving a suicide attempt, Stage takes on a controversial topic with bravery and wit. In the end, however, it is her heart you connect with. Her heart is the bridge her audiences cross to a deeper, more personal understanding of the taboo topic of suicide. Boop.