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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.




Citing Live Through This in Academic Work

Live Through This is a body of work I’ve been building on for over a decade. If you choose to use it as a reference, please cite it accurately, giving appropriate credit where it’s due. If you’re feeling particularly courteous, you could even send me an email ( to let me know.

Suggested APA citation for the homepage/the project as a whole:

Stage, D. L. (2010). Live Through This.

Suggested APA citation for a single story:

Stage, D. (Ed.) (date*). First-name Last-name is a suicide attempt survivor. This is his/her/their story [Interview]. Live Through This.

* You can find the date an interview was conducted in the introduction to each story.

NOTE: This work is not to be used in contexts beyond academic or journalistic work without explicit written permission. I shouldn’t have to tell anyone that, but here we are. Please don’t exploit people and their stories, or this work I’ve put years of my life and time and heart into.

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events scheduled at the moment. Check back soon!

Bring LTT To You

Now booking for 2023 and 2024! To inquire about availability for speaking engagements, please reach out to You can also find more information here.



Things People Have Said About My Talks

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.

Dr. April Foreman

Suicide Prevention Coordinator

Dese’Rae’s ability to be vulnerable on stage adds a level of power to her story that cannot be ignored. She connected with our audience at the soul level and will not soon be forgotten.
Erica Nelson

Director of Health Policy, North Carolina Hospital Association

Dese’Rae grips her audience with her heartfelt candor and humor. It is as if you’re catching up with an old friend when she shares her story and passion for Live Through This.
Amelia Lehto

RCH Coordinator - Suicide Prevention, Common Ground

Dese’Rae’s work has an important message for a campus audience, and we were thrilled with her visit to campus. Building off her own experiences, her talk was credible and informative while simultaneously offering an intimate and personal look at suicide experiences. Her message—that suicidal individuals deserve and need a compassionate audience—directly translated into a call to action for reducing stigma towards suicide.
Dr. Laura Frey

Assistant Professor, University of Louisville

We were so pleased with the talk Ms. Stage gave on our campus. Through her intense photos of suicide attempt survivors’ faces and story of her own suicide attempt, Ms. Stage helped the audience understand the range of people who have survived suicide. With humor, Ms. Stage allowed an audience of students, mental health professionals, community members and people bereaved by suicide the chance to think about suicide attempts and how we can talk openly about suicide. She made a difficult subject accessible to an audience with a wide-range of experiences.
Dr. Julie Cerel

Associate Professor, University of Kentucky

There are moments in which we learn more than we realize about ourselves, the patients and families we serve, and the world as we know it. I experienced one of these moments when I met Dese’Rae Stage. Dese’Rae was a ‘panel of one’ at a state-wide summit designed to inform, engage, and enlighten leaders serving patients and families with behavioral health needs. I was the facilitator for this panel and was truly inspired by her story and the project she leads. Dese’Rae has a unique passion for changing the assumptions—and the faces—of attempt survivors among healthcare providers. Her project is a model for leaders, providers, and communities who are willing to truly hear the experiences of attempt survivors. Her delivery is real and her solutions are designed to transform how healthcare demonstrates compassion across a continuum of care that has patients and families at the center. The visual and verbal elements of her presentations are unique and compelling. Dese’Rae presents the challenges and the solutions in a practical and impactful manner. As I continue to follow her work with other survivors and advocates, I am reminded of how essential conversations about suicide can be in transforming the healthcare system to a more patient- and family-centered environment. She helped me—my mind and my heart—to expand my capacity for compassion and understanding. I would highly recommend engaging Dese’Rae to transform your conversations!
Sue Collier

Patient-Family Engagement Leader and Advocate

Here’s what you’re getting yourself into:

Want to support Live Through This?

Live Through This is made possible in part by donations from incredible humans like you. If the project moves you and you have even a single dollar to spare, please consider donating. Every dollar donated goes straight back into the project. These funds allow for gear, web real estate and hosting, travel associated with the project, professional fees, conference attendance, and more.

For more ways to support Live Through This, be sure to check out the store, join in on the #STAY campaign by sharing a picture of you in your Live Through This gear, and subscribe to our mailing list!

About Live Through This
Live Through This is a series of portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors. Its mission is to change public attitudes about suicide for the better; to reduce prejudice and discrimination against attempt survivors; to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidality by letting them know that they’re not alone and tomorrow is possible; to give insight to those who have trouble understanding suicidality, and catharsis to those who have lost a loved one; and to be used as a teaching tool for clinicians in training, or anyone else who might benefit from a deeper understanding of first-person experiences with suicide.
More Information
Tax-deductible donations are made possible by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization, which sponsors Live Through This. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Live Through This must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Please Stay
If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources below. Someone will reach back. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life.
Find Help

You can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Trans Lifeline is at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada). The Trevor Project is at 866-488-7386. If you’d like to talk to a peer, contains links to warmlines in every state. If you’re not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world. If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

NOTE: Many of these resources utilize restrictive interventions, like active rescues (wellness or welfare checks) involving law enforcement or emergency services. If this is a concern for you, you can ask if this is a possibility at any point in your conversation. Trans Lifeline does not implement restrictive interventions for suicidal people without express consent. A warmline is also less likely to do this, but you may want to double-check their policies.

Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.
Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.