The mission of the Today I Choose Hope project is to save lives and prevent future suicide attempts. Designed by a person with lived experience around suicide and powered by the use of multimedia to maximize audience access and engagement, this multi-phase project is designed to test the effectiveness of stories of lived experience as a suicide prevention strategy. Phase I of this project will focus on young adults aged 18 – 25 years, for whom suicide is the second leading cause of death.
The project aims to:
· Determine whether access to and engagement with stories of lived experience will increase the number of individuals experiencing suicidality to seek help
· Reduce the stigma, both real and perceived, that prevents suicidal individuals from seeking help
· Build and disseminate knowledge about effective suicide prevention strategies and resources, based on the lived experience of those who have struggled with suicidality
The Today I Choose Hope project is poised to harness the narrative power of stories, video footage and still photographs to speak to the connections and supports that those with lived experience and suicide prevention research tell us are lifesaving.
In a culture in which silence, shame, stigma and myths permeate any discussion of suicide and the barriers to seeking help are well-documented, this project will bring forth the voices and images of diverse groups of people with lived experience who have moved forward in their recovery journeys. Transcending traditional suicide prevention materials, it will show these persons in the midst of what makes their lives meaningful and purposeful – their families and friends, their communities, their work and the activities they pursue.
These emotionally resonant suicide attempt recovery stories and high impact images will be disseminated in multiple media formats easily accessible in a range of public and private settings. The target audience for these photo stories are those who have had suicidal thoughts, planned or attempted suicide, as well as family members and friends, community members, behavioral and physical healthcare organizations, educational institutions, community organizations, the suicide prevention community and the general public.
LifeWork Photo’s mission and proven skills in social documentary photography, combined with the expertise of several major behavioral health organizations, advance a uniquely qualified and innovative partnership. Phase I of Today I Choose Hope project harnesses the age-old powerful tool of story-telling with vivid images of young adults with lived experience on their recovery journeys. The product will be a powerful, innovative, multi-media suicide prevention campaign that maximizes audience access and engagement in an era of sharply rising suicide rates.