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Your Reasons To Go on Living

After surviving a suicide attempt, why does a person want to live again? Researchers at McMaster University are doing a study to find out, and seek your help. Firsthand survivors of suicide attempts are invited to describe what it was like. They especially want to know: what were the reasons to keep going?

The Reasons to go on Living Project has a deadline of December 15 to finish collecting stories, and is calling for submissions from anyone who has made a suicide attempt and is willing to describe what happened.

“We are doing this … to understand how people’s thinking changes after a suicide attempt. We do not understand the thinking processes that occur for people who choose to go on living after an attempt and there is very little research in this area. We believe that if we had a better understanding of how people found the strength to go living after an attempt, we might be able to better help people who are thinking of ending their lives, before they make an attempt.” – from

For this project Associate Professor Jennifer Brasch is collaborating with Helen Kirkpatrick, RN. Kirkpatrick is known for her work in narrative studies with schizophrenia, harm reduction, and the homeless. In her paper A Narrative Framework for Understanding Experiences of People With Severe Mental Illnesses* she explains the importance of individual tales.

“People like to tell stories; they are part of the human condition. Stories provide a way to make coherence and meaning of events in people’s lives. … Telling and listening to stories can be powerful change agents in and of themselves.”

They hope to collect at least 200 stories, so help spread the word. Some will be put up on the site just after the deadline, while offline they will read everything and prepare a journal article to be published as soon as feasible.

Along with collecting stories, the archives are meant to be a permanent source of hope (online after Dec. 16). It may become a popular mental health consumer resource like Emerging into Light Gallery, or even The Icarus Project with strong, intimate voices. It will be interesting to read the range they hear from. Here is a chance to make your voice heard.

It’s not meant for a crisis but there are links to resources that are, along with dramatic snippets of facts on the site. All participants must agree to a consent form but stay anonymous.

Thoughts of suicide? All the contributors to this project to date have changed their minds, and you may find eloquent reasons to go on too.

* A Narrative Framework for Understanding Experiences of People With Severe Mental Illnesses, Kirkpatrick H, Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, Volume 22, Issue 2, April 2008 doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2007.12.002

Your Reasons To Go on Living

Sandra Kiume

Sandra Kiume is a mental health advocate. Along with contributing to World of Psychology, she blogs at Channel N about brain and behaviour videos, and is the founder of @unsuicide and Online Suicide Help. She lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

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APA Reference
Kiume, S. (2018). Your Reasons To Go on Living. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 11 Dec 2008)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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