Share your story
Examples of stories
Stories of Personal Experience: No one’s loss, or struggle, is the same. But together, they can be powerful.
Tips and How-To Articles: What helped you heal and cope with a loss? Do you have advice for others on how to talk to a friend who is struggling, or guide them toward help? What’s the best way you’ve found to manage your own anxiety or depression?
Your Healing Journey or Volunteering: Have you participated in an Out of the Darkness Walk? Did you set up a fundraiser for AFSP? Were you part of an AFSP advocacy event? We want to hear about it!
Opinion: As someone affected by suicide, your views are important. Help us start a conversation.
Creative Expression: Compose a poem. Write a “letter” to someone you’ve lost, or who just didn’t understand. Express yourself in whatever way you choose.
Safe storytelling guidelines
Stories about mental health and suicide can help save lives and create a culture that’s smart about mental health, but only if done so safely. When shared responsibly, these stories can let people know they are not alone, that help is always available, and that recovery is possible. Stories can encourage people at risk to seek help; let those struggling know that mental health can be managed, just like physical health; and assure people who have lost someone to suicide know that healing is possible and that resources are available to them.
We know a great deal about what may be triggering or harmful, in terms of storytelling, to those who may be struggling.
These tips can be used whether you’re submitting a piece for AFSP’s Real Stories Blog, sharing your story on stage as a storyteller, or writing a play, a screenplay, a book, a song or a poem. You can also download a pdf of these tips for printing.
Be at a safe place in your recovery. Reflect on your own frame of mind. As a general guideline, wait at least one year after an attempt or a loss before sharing.
Define key messages. Your story should not simply express pain. Your goal should be to educate and inspire hope.
Emphasize the journey. Do not focus solely on the details of a suicide loss or an attempt. Include the full range of your experience: the before and the after, the positive and the negative, how you manage your mental health today, and how far you’ve come.
Consider your audience (e.g., students, clinicians, survivors) and tailor your remarks accordingly – many people see AFSP Blog Stories when they’re shared on social media, for instance, and may not know anything about AFSP, mental health or suicide prevention in general. Make sure you provide any basic context your audience might need.
Practice. Sharing your story may bring up unexpected emotions. If you’re sharing your story in person or on video, be sure to practice aloud so you’re prepared to speak calmly and slowly in front of others.
Send the message that help is always available, and include resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and the Crisis Text Line (text TALK to 741741) for those in immediate crisis, and afsp.org to learn more.
Don’t use the phrase “commit suicide,” which perpetuates suicide’s stigma and moral judgment. Preferred terms are “ended one’s life,” “took his/her life,” or “died by suicide.”
Don’t refer to a suicide attempt as “successful,” “unsuccessful” or as a “failed attempt.”
Don’t refer to lethal means or method used in an attempt, unless your story would be incomplete to the listener without it. Avoid including details such as method, location, or notes left behind, since graphic descriptions can be triggering to those who struggle, and cause contagion.
Don’t simplify suicide. Research shows that no one takes their life for a single reason, such as a job loss or divorce. Reducing suicide to a single cause fails to educate people about the many risk factors that can lead to an attempt.
Don’t glorify suicide. Portraying suicide as honorable or romantic can lead others to view suicide as a viable option.
Avoid portraying suicide as an option. Suicide is not a rational backup plan or coping behavior.
Submit a story
AFSP’s mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide, and our blog is an extension of these efforts. Our blog educates the public about suicide and shares stories of hope, healing and resilience. We accept personal stories and articles related to suicide prevention and mental health.
Blogging Best Practices
Each piece should be no longer than 1,000 words.
Please include in a Word document:
- Photo (horizontal, at least 1,000 pixels)
- City, State
- Twitter handle (if applicable)
- Phone number
- Title (coming up with a clear simple title can be a great way to help focus your article!)
- Avoid talking about suicide method
- Avoid using the phrase “committed suicide”
- Use the phrase “mental health conditions” rather than “mental illness”
Popular post formats include:
- Personal stories and loss, struggle, and resilience
- Opinion pieces with a clear call to action (like become an advocate, walk, join a local chapter, etc.)
- Lists (top ten)
- Tips and How-to’s (i.e. how to speak openly about mental health, practice self-care, reach out for help, etc.)
- Open with a quote, a question or a statistic
Consider the following questions:
- Does this piece answer a question people are asking?
- Have I connected my experience to the greater issue?
- Can this be connected to something topical?
- How does this contribute to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide?
- When you’re done, read it aloud. It will help you hear awkward sentences.
Please note: AFSP reserves the right to edit for content and length.