SUICIDE Narratives

SUICIDE Narratives is an alternative approach to supporting a person in distress and crisis when the person may be considering ending their own life, and recognises suicide as a problem for individual and in any community when their may be unspoken problems and dilemmas. Additionally, Suicide Narratives facilitates an ongoing support journey towards making sense of the experience of suicide, an experience that for many people is an ongoing narrative in their life.

The approach provides an alternative to models that place the problems in the person and those underpinned by pathologising and 'illness' driven ideas and instead focusses on connection, mutuality, wisdom and healing through knowing.

Suicide Narratives is seeking to contribute understanding of wisdom and healing as a whole community, in response to the tragic and painful journey of people in our community, our fellows beings, who seek to end their life, or live with this experience in an ongoing journey of existential dilemma and crisis.

Suicide is part of the human experience. If a person from one culture or group experiences distress, that precipitates ending or contemplating ending their life, this is also the problem for all members of interconnected group; suicide is not the problem in or of the person in distress. As an interconnected set of living beings there is inherent mutuality in our greater shared journeys; If one person is suffering, all beings are suffering.  

Ownership of the 'mental illness' construct by the medical establishment (ably supported by other institutions of clinical and professional communities) causes a distraction from developing understanding of potentially meaningful narratives of the common human experience of suicide. Tragically the levels of Suicide have not declined significantly, despite massive financial investment and increased dominance by mental health systems in their embracing of 'new' models based in similar values of 'illness' and constructs of problems in individuals.

The experience of individuals contemplating ending their lives may be confronting. As such it may be more 'comfortable' for many to consider this dilemma within the frames of the 'illness' model. However, this is not a valid construct, nor a helpful distraction to any person or community that is contemplating or dealing with suicide, especially as many people have ongoing experiences of contemplating ending their own lives. Creating narratives of 'illness', and the notion that the non-suicidal person can provide a fix for the person in distress, is likely to dis-empower the individual as it fails to look at the broader environment of the persons experience of being.

There is evident need for an alternative way of trying to make sense of such experiences, one that values the suicidal person as holding the message, meaning and wisdom to find healing as part of a mutual and communal journey.

The Suicide Narrative approach sees the person in distress as the wise person who has an important message to share with the community- that there is problems in the environment, relationships or community. Developing right understanding of how a person has come to an intelligent process of confronting their existence, in the individual context of their own life, the person may have determined few other ways to feel able to continue to exist. Suicide Narratives is concerned to listen deeply in be relationship with the person and their experience towards exploring new ways of being should the context, environment, community and human to human relationship be experienced in new or different ways - this is healing through knowing that can emerge when a person can develop understanding of their narrative related to suicide, and provide the wisdom towards healing, for the individual, the supporter and potentially the wider community.

Developed at Humane Clinic, Adelaide Suicide Narratives is an approach that supports crisis, meaningful follow up and on going support, including individual and lived experience group support. The approach takes inspiration from the hearing voices approach towards accepting and making sense of the experiences - in this case suicide. Other influences on the Suicide Narrative approach include Emotional CPR, Just Listening, The Power Threat Meaning Framework, Dissociachotic framework, Buddhist concepts, Talking with Voices, Existential concepts and many other humane ideas.

Suicide Narratives includes four components of the Suicide Narrative approach include:

1. A response to crisis and distress - Emotional CPR and Just Listening

2. A meaning based enquiry - The Suicide Meaning Conversation

3. Suicide Narrative groups

4. Talking with Suicide approach

The Suicide Narratives approach places the person in distress as the wise and knowing person. It does not focus on risk and assessment. Suicide Narratives is about healing in the whole community and provides mutuality and empowerment to both the person in distress and the supporter. Suicide Narratives recognises the distress a person experiences as holding knowledge that is needed for healing in the wider community. The first workshop of SUICIDE Narratives will be held in October 20202 in Adelaide, with a proposed online version online following shortly. For information on the workshop click:


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