Survivors of Suicide Loss Speaker Readiness Recommendations

  • Survivors should be at a point emotionally where they can tell their story without having a setback in their own healing.
  • Their primary motivation for speaking about their loss should not be for their own healing, although this might happen as a byproduct of their sharing their story.
  • Survivor speakers should be able to share their story without blaming certain individuals or agencies/organizations. Negative experiences may be a motivating factor in the survivor’s decision to share their story with others, but blame should be reframed as a way to teach the audience “what could have been more helpful.”
  • Survivor speakers should be able to tell their story in a coherent manner, following Safe Messaging guidelines. (These guidelines should always be provided ahead of time to survivor speakers and reviewed in discussion.)
  • Survivor speakers should have a clear and appropriate message for the target audience (e.g., social service agencies and community programs). This message should be helpful for the audience.
  • Survivor speakers should be able to speak within a designated time frame, about 15 minutes, no more than 20 minutes, to accompany a postvention training, so that there can be time to solicit questions (5–10 minutes) from the audience.
  • Survivor speakers should be able to interact with an audience and know how to answer questions from the audience safely, for themselves as well as for audience members.
  • Survivor speakers should be aware of local and national resources that might be helpful for other survivors of suicide loss.

*These criteria are considered essential for the well-being of the survivor of suicide loss speaker as well as for the emotional safety of audience members.

Used with permission from Family Services/Samaritans of Merrimack Valley.