Seeking Persons with Lived Experience of Suicidality for Prevent Suicide Wisconsin Conference

Mental Health America of Wisconsin, on behalf of the Prevent Suicide Wisconsin Steering Committee and its conference planning sub-committee, is seeking individuals who have lived experience of suicidality who would be interested in sharing their stories at the Prevent Suicide Wisconsin annual conference on April 13, 2018. We envision this being done at a plenary session (for all conference attendees), although the exact format is yet to be determined and will be influenced, in part, through the input of those selected to present. A similar panel at this year’s conference was very well received and inclusion of the voices of those with lived experience is a high priority for the planning sub-committee. However, we may also ask individuals responding to this request if they are interested in being part of breakout sessions for the conference if individuals sending in presentation applications request assistance in identifying individuals with this lived experience to be part of their panel.

The conference is expected to draw approximately 250 individuals so presenters should have had some experience talking publicly about their experiences with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts to a good sized audience. MHA will hold one or more teleconferences with selected presenters to go over issues to be discussed and how each individual might respond. We will provide additional support, as needed by individuals, to ensure that each person’s story is effectively presented.

The conference planning sub-committee has identified some themes for the conference and we expect to incorporate these into this lived experience plenary session:

  • Small steps that make a big difference
  • Be the one…to talk to someone
  • Resilience and hope

Individuals who would like to be part of this plenary should be able to identify pieces from their story that can underscore these themes. The attendees at the conference represent a wide range of individuals who are interested in suicide prevention, from mental health and public health professionals, to local suicide prevention coalition leaders, to law enforcement and school personnel. So messages that will help these individuals understand what is most helpful to those experiencing suicidality will be important.

While we are interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in this opportunity, the conference planning committee is hoping to identify people who represent sub-populations at elevated risk of suicide. These include:

  • Men in the middle years (45-64)
  • Veterans
  • People of color
  • People who identify as LGBTQ
  • Native Americans

Selected individuals will have their conference fees waived and will be provided travel expenses and hotel room. Other accommodations will be provided as feasible.

If you are interested, please send the following information to Shel Gross at

  • Your name and contact information.
  • Any current affiliations that are relevant to your experiences and/or suicide prevention (e.g., employment as a Certified Peer Specialist or mental health professional; involvement in other suicide prevention or mental health education or advocacy).
  • Your public speaking experience and identification of two individuals who have seen you present.
  • Identification of any of the high-risk sub-populations you feel that you represent.
  • A brief statement about two or three messages from your story that resonate with the conference themes identified above.

Please submit this information to Shel by December 8, 2017. Feel free to contact Shel at the email address above with any questions or clarifications.

Thank you for considering taking part in this very important session.