Alternatives to Suicide
Historically, people have believed that it was too dangerous to offer peer-to-peer support groups focused on the topic of suicide without a clinician present. There are many myths and fears around this sort of group and around suicide in general. However, as a community we have found strength in coming together to talk about many 'taboo' topics and to support one another in our times of greatest distress. Our collective wisdom and individual stories have taught us that the space to come together in this way can be powerful and healing. It is out of this work and learning that the Alternatives to Suicide approach was born.
This training is based on the principles of our ‘Alternatives to Suicide’ groups and the wisdom of so many people who themselves have struggled with how and if to stay in this world. The training focuses on sitting with difficult conversations, exploring our own feelings and fears that rise up when trying to do so, and supporting those who are struggling to make meaning of and move through those darkest times.
This training is open to providers, people working in peer roles, friends and family members, and anyone else interested in learning more. We’ve had great responses to the trainings we’ve offered so far. Here are a few comments from previous participants:
- “It was so very good it inspired me to be involved with this process - a truly important and needed training. It should be mandatory.”
- “It was amazing. It gave me confidence to handle difficult conversations with compassion and curiosity.”
- “Excellent, really liked the fact the facilitators were very personal in sharing their experiences and how we practiced the techniques and were able to discuss each one after practice!! Thanks so much this training was very helpful.”
The Alternatives to Suicide approach was developed by the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (RLC) in 2009 as one of the only peer-to-peer approaches that truly focuses on the topic of suicide rather than assessment and risk. Trainings and workshops on this approach have also been offered in Vermont, Connecticut, New York, Wisconsin, and beyond (including France and Australia!). We hope that you will consider joining us for this great two-day training opportunity.
PLEASE NOTE: Although this training is based on the ‘Alternatives to Suicide’ approach and includes information drawn from that, this training is not the same as the three-day Alternatives to Suicide Facilitator training and is not intended to prepare people to facilitate groups.
The Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community offers training on a variety of topics related to suicide including:
3-day Alternatives to Suicide Facilitator Training*: This training is intended for people who would like to learn the ins and outs of starting up and facilitating an Alternatives to Suicide training in their area. This training is generally only intended for individuals who identify as suicide attempt survivors and/or people who have struggled with thoughts of suicide. Developed, in part, through funds from Tapestry Health and the National Empowerment Center.
2-day Conversations on Suicide Workshop*: This workshop is intended to support individuals through an in depth exploration of the topic of suicide and how to sit with someone in deep emotional distress. It provides a brief overview of 'Alternatives to Suicide' groups, but is not intended as a facilitator training. This workshop can be geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and anyone else in community.
1-day Dialogue on Suicide*: This workshop is intended to support groups and communities to begin to breakdown barriers that are getting in the way of open and honest talk about suicide and related topics, and to begin to build understanding of how to talk with and offer support to people when they say their suicidal. This workshop can be geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and anyone else in community.
3-hour Alternatives to Suicide Group Overview*: This overview is intended to provide participants with a basic understanding of the philosophy and mechanics of Alternatives to Suicide groups. This workshop can be geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and anyone else in community.
3-hour Myths of Suicide Workshop*: This workshop is intended to provide a basic understanding of many of the myths and misunderstandings of suicide and people who say they are suicidal. This workshop can be geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and anyone else in community.
3-hour Workshop on Self-Injury*: This workshop is intended to support participants to explore the topic of self-injury, including how it differs from suicidal thoughts or inclinations and other related myths. This workshop can be geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and anyone else in community
PRICING: Pricing is based on a sliding scale. Typically, the lowest end is intended for independent groups with no annual budget. Although we do not directly charge individual participants, some organizations choose to have registration fees to help defray their payment to us. All pricing includes any related trainer fees, meals for trainers, and supplies for up to 25 participants. It does NOT include travel (ground and/or airfare) and lodging. Any costs related to training sites or food provided to training participants are also at the expense of the host organization.
3-day Trainings - $2500.00 to $5800.00
2-day Trainings - $2000.00 to $4400.00
1-day Trainings - $1050.00 to $2200.00
3-hour Trainings - $300.00 to $650.00
The Western Mass RLC developed the 'Alternatives to Suicide' approach because the opportunity to talk openly about suicide and feelings of deep emotional distress with others who have or are experiencing similar struggles can be a powerful way to support people to move through those darkest places. During groups, people share their successes and their challenges, provide support for one another and strategize and share ideas for coping with difficult life circumstances. People are encouraged to come both in times of strength and challenge. Individuals need not identify as being in 'crisis' in order to attend.
Western Mass groups currently include:
Northampton: Mondays, 6:30pm - 8pm @ the Friend's Quaker Meeting House, 43 Center Street
Greenfield: Tuesdays, 5:30pm - 7pm @ the RLC's Greenfield Center, 74 Federal Street
Pittsfield: Wednesdays, 4:30pm - 6pm @ the RLC's Pittsfield Center, 146 First Street
Springfield: Fridays, 2:30pm-4pm @ Forest Park in Springfield for the month of August
There are a variety of resources available on line for people who are thinking about dying, or are trying to support someone else who is in that place. While we do not necessarily endorse all the resources available, there is a great deal of information and many support opportunities available at the 'Unsuicide' website.