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In 2010, Dese'Rae L. Stage set out to create a photo series of suicide attempt survivors.

At that time, Stage says she lost her first friend to suicide and had attempted to end her own life. Suicide was now part of her everyday existence, but talking about it was not.

"There was a lack of visibility for people like me, and an inability to find other attempt survivors," Stage said. "Why are we invisible?"


Dese'Rae L. Stage, creator of Live Through This. All photos by Dese'Rae L. Stage, used with permission.

She began reaching out to celebrities and posting ads on Craigslist. Slowly, more and more suicide attempt survivors began to respond, and the portraiture and oral history project grew organically.

Six years later, Stage has interviewed more than 170 people in 30 U.S. cities for the Live Through This project, with each participant sharing their experience of life on the other side of a suicide attempt.

"The goal of the project was to show people we're not so easily erased," Stage said.

By telling the stories of real attempt survivors, Live Through This shows suicide does not discriminate. They are people who look just like you.

David Pajo: "I think if you lost someone, don't make it too taboo to discuss. It sucks and it's really hard to do to put it out there, but sometimes you have to do the thing that's hardest. Be courageous. Talk about it with people that it affects. It'll be better for you, it'll be better for the other person."

Megan Rotari: "I think [a suicide survivor] can look like anything. Literally any race, religion, ethnicity, anything. Any age."

Grace Kim: "I realize I wasted most of my life being miserable and now I just want to live the rest of it out taking advantage of it, ‘cause it really is a gift. Being here... it’s, like, a one in a forty million chance that you were born."

Zack Fraser: "If I could give one gift to people, it would be the ability to understand, on a gut level, that people’s brains are not going to work like your brain. People are going to have different experiences."

We need to change the way we talk about suicide.

"We've put death in a hospital ... it’s not something we see," Stage said. People don't want to talk about death, but for suicide attempt survivors, it's the most valuable thing we can do.

For every one person who dies by suicide, 147 people are affected, according to recent research-based estimates by Julie Cerel, cited by the American Association of Suicidology.

Dr. Shayda Kafai: "And, immediately, if I say "mental illness," my whole being becomes mental illness. I think it's such a socially coded word that if I say that one thing, they see me as just that one thing. I chose 'psychiatric disability' because a disability is something one has, but I also believe it's a political term."

"One of the biggest things we‘re taught as young people is to put yourself in someone else's shoes," Stage explained. "It's the need to ask yourself: What would it take to hurt so much that you would want to take your own life? That’s often beyond where people want to go as a thought experimentation ... but it’s needed."

There's still much work to be done as we learn the best language to use when talking about suicide, but projects like Live Through This are helping to make that shift to open, supportive conversation.

Talking about suicide will humanize those who attempt it. There's incredible value in the simple skills of listening and asking direct questions. "Learning to put your fear aside, hold face, ask what people need, and help them get it without judgement," Stage says, is vital.

Live Through This rallies empathy for attempt survivors, but the project's power is in creating visibility for an entire community struggling with depression, self harm, or suicidal thoughts. By normalizing how we talk about suicide, we'll be able to help people before they attempt it.

Connect with them, ask questions, listen, show them they're not alone. It could save a life.

Watch the Upworthy Original video below for more on Live Through This, and to hear from Joey Olszewski, a suicide attempt survivor featured in the project:

If you or someone you know is hurting, afraid, or struggling with suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. If you don't like the phone, visit Lifeline Crisis Chat or Crisis Text Line.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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