People with lived experience.. 

are individuals who have experienced a suicide attempt, suicidal thoughts and feelings, or a suicide loss. 

“We are experts by experience—people who have lived with mental health conditions, people who've been suicidal, people who are trauma survivors. That is just as valuable as the kind of academic credentials that people earn. And it’s incredibly important that we work together as partners.” -Leah Harris, MA


Engaging People with Lived Experience: A Toolkit for Organizations (SPRC, 2019)

Organizations that involve people with lived experience are better equipped to make their services more focused, efficient, integrated, culturally appropriate, and sustainable. This toolkit provides information on how to create an inclusive organizational environment and improve suicide prevention strategies by involving individuals who have life experience with suicide in planning, strategy implementation, practice reviews, policy development, and leadership.


Learn more about the importance of engaging people with lived experience in effective suicide prevention and listen to a newly released podcast featuring SPRC’s own Terresa Humphries-Wadsworth, who led the development of the toolkit.



What is Lived Experience?

People with lived experience are individuals or loved ones of individuals who have experienced a suicide attempt, suicidal thoughts and feelings, and/or a suicide loss.

Why is it important for suicide prevention?

  • Sharing one's lived experience with suicide and recovery serves as a means of generating hope for others at risk.
  • It preserves dignity, and counters stigma, shame, and discrimination.
  • Including lived experience in prevention efforts fosters credibility, trust, and community engagement.

What could YOU do?

This blog aims to give voice to stories of hope and healing.

Sharing these stories will help shape the way behavioral health services are designed to enhance quality care for different communities.


These stories could be pre-written or shared for review via video chat, phone or email.

To share your story of lived experience:


Find out more at 


Engaging People with Lived Experience 

Visit the SPRC page on Engaging People with Lived Experience to learn why it's important, what you can do, and explore additional resources. 

Core Values for Supporting People with Lived Experience 

All activities designed to help attempt survivors, or anyone who has been suicidal, should be consistent with one or more of the core values below.1 These values are also relevant for suicide loss survivors.

  • Foster hope and help people find meaning and purpose in life
  • Preserve dignity and counter stigma, shame, and discrimination
  • Connect people to peer supports
  • Promote community connectedness
  • Engage and support family and friends
  • Respect and support cultural, ethnic, and/or spiritual beliefs and traditions
  • Promote choice and collaboration in care
  • Provide timely access to care and support

Reference: National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force. (2014). The Way Forward: Pathways to hope, recovery, and wellness with insights from lived experience. Washington, DC: Author.


Resources & Stories