‘Alternatives to Suicide’ Overview: Systems Change & One-on-One Connection

Posted on 07 March 2022

How harm reduction and human rights can be introduced to advocacy for suicidal people

Fri, 22 April 2022, 11:00 – 17:00 BST

Online Workshop
With Caroline Mazel-Carlton (pictured) & Sera Davidow from Wildflower Alliance in the USA, and Mind in Camden’s Fiona Malpass.

‘Alternatives to Suicide’ (Alt2Su) describes a non-coercive approach to suicide that focuses on curiosity and relationship-building among those who are struggling. Alt2Su is distinct from the current systemic paradigm of suicide prevention in a few key dimensions.

The Alternatives to Suicide Charter operates on the assumption that we are not responsible *for* one another, so much as we are responsible *to* one another to be present and hold and sit with pain and challenge together. Alt2Su represents an alternative to risk assessment, to pathologising individuals and to the use of force. It creates space for meaning-making and considering the context of one’s experiences. The phrase “I feel suicidal” can hold many meanings. Yet the space to explore those meanings, to explore the context of such feelings, can be hard to find. As evidence continues to build, of the inefficacy of assessment-oriented interventions and hospitalisation, at reducing suicide rates — what else is available to better hold, express and move through suicidal thoughts?

This workshop will seek to answer just that question through an exploration of the Alt2Su approach, groups and philosophy.

Come spend time with the Wildflower Alliance, and Mind in Camden, to discuss how harm reduction and human rights can be introduced to advocacy for suicidal people!

Workshop Facilitators

Caroline has laid her head in a number of places, from Indiana jail cells to Texas psychiatric units, but now enjoys a freer existence as Director of Training for the Wildflower Alliance. Since moving out of a staffed psychiatric residential facility in 2009, she has worked tirelessly to create change in the mental health system and has developed and re-defined peer roles in a number of settings across the globe from North Carolina to Western Australia. Caroline has contributed to multiple academic publications on the topic of suicide and one book on her experience skating on a roller derby team as #18 “Mazel Tov Cocktail”.

Sera received her first psychiatric diagnosis as a teenager, accumulating a handful more by her early twenties. That, along with a lengthy history of self-injury and emotional distress, led to her first experience being held against her will in a psychiatric facility at the age of 22, and an array of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs. However, it was her ‘non-compliant’ and rebellious nature that paved her way down another path and to a full life where she re-defined herself as a survivor and has found success without any diagnoses or psychiatric drugs for over a decade. Sera’s employment journey first brought her to a position in the conventional mental health system, but she soon found her way to peer-to-peer support communities, advocacy and social justice efforts. Through this work, she has gained a range of experiences including starting up a peer respite (Afiya), opening community centers and producing educational materials from books to training curricula to films.

Fiona works at Mind in Camden as the Hearing Voices Project manager, working with young people, prisons, forensic settings and immigration removal centres, and the London Hearing Voices network. They are also studying Philosophy and Mental Health at UCLan. Fiona has personal experience of many forms of distress, including suicidality, and uses this in her work to build connections, as well as to challenge the status quo and provide provocations to ways of thinking and working.


For ticket prices and booking please click here.

If you have any questions about bookings, please contact John Wetherell at LHVN@mindincamden.org.uk

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