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I Think I’ll Stay

*Warning* The following article discusses issues surrounding suicidal ideation. The article is written to discuss and consider ways to serve peers who struggle in this way. If this subject may be a trigger for you, please use self-care and not read any further. Self-care first, no harm, no foul, no judgment)

Have you ever the phrase “stick and stay”? If not, now you have. Thanks for reading. Have a great day! Wait. Sorry. I still have more to say. Thanks for “sticking” around!

The definition of the phrase “stick and stay” boils down to this: “One must show consistency and dedication in one’s efforts to be rewarded.” For example, I know a man who has run 45 marathons…that’s right…not 4 or 5 marathons…45 marathons! Wait for it…1 in each state and is 5 states away from his goal to run a marathon in every state. Consistent? Check! Dedicated? Most definitely! Out of his mind? Depends on who you ask but my knees are screaming yes! I admire his ability to take pain so well. 

Isn’t it like that in recovery? We get ‘stuck’ and we often ‘stay’ in it. And we meet with peers who are experiencing the same thing. Living between your ears can be a dangerous thing if we’re not careful. One mental health challenge that illustrates this is suicidality.

*DISCLAIMER For the sake of this article, let’s assume that when a peer comes to us with the struggle of suicidal ideation and reveals having a plan to carry that out, human life must take precedent. HOW we go about that is the major concern. Browbeating, fear tactics, judgment, shaming, guilt-tripping are NEVER acceptable ways to talk to any human much less one struggling with this issue.*

How can we best serve peers struggling with such concerns? Obviously, if there is evidence of a plan of action, the conversation becomes serious very quickly. As peer recovery specialists, we respect, support and encourage freedom of choice and freedom to embrace or reject any type of recovery modality as the peer sees fit for themselves.

Here’s the deal with suicide: it lives and, ironically, dies by thoughts. You have to think it before you can take action in any direction in life. One of the most effective ways we can support a peer is to gently and compassionately challenge their thinking and invite them to observe their thoughts and the different perspective we can offer. Inviting someone into a conversation about personal change lowers their defenses and can really open them up to change. Two phrases I have found to be helpful in such conversations are “hypothetically speaking” and “we’re just batting the ball around here”. One challenges the thought process and the other lowers the chance of perceived judgment and condemnation.

As you probably know, Suicide Awareness Month is over at the end of September. However, the scourge of suicide does not take a vacation. And as peer recovery specialists, we have to face that reality and continue supporting peers when September ends (Green Day, anyone?). This where we come in.

I wrote a song called ‘I Think I’ll Stay” which is a suicide prevention song. Below is the link to it. Please considered watching the video and sharing it with anyone you think could benefit from it.

Let me encourage you: The work you do as a peer recovery specialist is not easy particularly with this issue. You have what it takes to support peers even in the most dire circumstances. Telling your story of why you choose daily to ‘stick and stay’ in recovery and chase after recovery is powerful. All it takes is a rightly timed word or phrase to revolutioninze someone’s life.

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Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network
Mental Health America of Virginia

The Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network is a program of Mental Health America of Virginia.

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