In suicide research, the lessons of survivors are seldom heard – people who, despite the urge to die, find ways to cope and reasons to live .
A new study takes this approach, conducting open-ended interviews with 17 people in the Ithaca area. Each interviewee described a similar journey: fighting the temptation to end their lives, dealing with periods of ambivalence (regardless of whether they lived or died), and accepted suicidal ideation as part of their lives.
When asked to describe their coping strategies, the participants surprised the researchers by offering a number of methods that are downplayed or completely absent from conventional studies .
For example, having pets was key for many participants , which is not analyzed in the scientific literature. Other unconventional strategies included meditation, spiritual practices, and participation in the arts.
At the policy level, one participant said that the bridge barriers helped by reminding him that the community cares. Another said that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage had given him a reason to live.
A recurring theme throughout the interviews was the importance of peer support and storytelling. Peer support is still considered outside the bounds of conventional suicide prevention, as are many of the coping mechanisms recommended by the study participants.