Alternatives to Suicide
Alternatives to Suicide is an innovative peer-led suicide prevention approach from the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (WMRLC) in the USA. The WA Steering Committee is pleased to bring Sera Davidow and Caroline Mazel-Carlton to Perth to follow up presentations previously made in Perth in February 2017.
WMRLC creates conditions that support recovery at both the individual and community level through trauma-sensitive peer supports and the development of a regional network. They believe that human relationships are at the centre of what heal people who have experienced extreme emotional states, trauma, mental health diagnoses and a variety of other challenges in life. Their lived experience and ‘humanness’ is what unites them. Their stories, collective wisdom and strength are what guide them and their community to wellness. You can view further information about Alternatives to Suicide and WMRLC HERE
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 hospitalization against her will 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.
Sera’s journey first brought her to a position in a traditional role in the mental health system, but she soon found her way to peer-to-peer support communities, advocacy and social justice efforts. At present, Sera works as the Director of the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (RLC) where she focuses much of her time on grant writing, oversight and project development. Through this work, she has gained a range of experiences including starting up a peer respite, opening resource centres, and producing educational materials (including co-authoring handbooks on peer respites and developing peer roles). She has also found a passion for filmmaking, beginning with ‘Beyond the Medical Model’ in 2013. In addition to the RLC, Sera is a founding member of the Hearing Voices USA Board of Directors, and a regular blogger at Mad in America (www.madinamerica.com/author/sdavidow).
More about Sera’s story and work can be found in a full-length interview featured in Sun Magazine’s April, 2017 issue:
Caroline first interfaced with psychiatry at the age of eight, and years later was able to find a path out of a world defined by diagnoses and medications through roller derby and social activism. Since moving out of a staffed group home eight years ago, she has worked tirelessly to create change in the mental health system, developing and re-defining peer roles and values in various organisations in North Carolina and Massachusetts.
Caroline currently serves as Director of Training for the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community, promoting an ethos of self-determination and mutual support in a number of settings across the globe. She has been privileged to be a facilitator/trainer for the “Alternatives to Suicide” approach for over five years, promoting conversation and connection over the current paradigm of “risk assessment”. Caroline also works towards developing regional networks of support for voice-hearers in her role as Training Coordinator for the national Hearing Voices Research and Development Project.
An audience with the founders of Alternatives to Suicide, 12th March 3.00pm – 6.00pm
Join Sera Davidow and Caroline Mazel-Carlton for a facilitated discussion about their personal journeys and what brought them to Alternatives to Suicide.
They will share key points of the peer support program itself, and share what they believe have been their key successes and what continues to be their challenges. They will share some of the myths of suicide. You will then be able to ask Sera and Caroline any questions that you would like.
The Carer Centre, Perth
The Myths of Suicide workshop, Kwinana – 13th March 8.30am – 12.30
This is intended to provide a basic understanding of many of the myths and misunderstandings of suicide and people who say they are suicidal. It is geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and other community members.
The Conversations on Suicide workshop – 14th – 15th March 9.30am – 4.30pm
This supports 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 facilitator training. It is geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and other community members.
The Myths of Suicide workshop, Joondalup- 16th March 2.00pm – 5.00pm
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. It is geared toward people working in peer roles, provider roles, family members, suicide attempt survivors and other community members.
The Youth Forum, 19th March 10.00am – 4.00pm
This is being organised by the Youth Affairs Council of WA (YACWA). A half day Forum will be held in the morning and will be targeted at young people but will be open to anyone and will attract youth workers, school staff, social service providers, government and non-government health service providers. An interactive afternoon session will follow for young people.
Facilitator Training, 20th – 22nd March 9.30am – 4.30pm
This training is intended for people who would like to learn the ins and outs of starting up and facilitating an Alternatives to Suicide support group 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.