KSHB 41: ‘Eye of the Survivor’ supports suicide prevention through storytelling

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Storytelling retreats, “Eye of the Survivor: Your Hero’s Journey about Surviving Suicide,” offered in person and virtually

  • People who have had personal experiences with suicide learn to prepare for and deliver safe and effective storytelling about how they lived through it.
  • Lived experiences with suicide include grieving a suicide loss, living through a suicide attempt, living with suicidal thoughts or feelings, or being a caregiver for someone who has been suicidal. No matter where someone is on their journey related to suicide, participants will find value in these exercises and lessons.
  • Storytelling around suicide has unique caveats. Training helps to ensure that the storyteller is ready and uses best practices for safe and impactful storytelling.

Workshop Highlights

  • The art and science of storytelling and the impact it has on the storyteller and the listener are explored.
  • Among the goals are using stories both impact change in participants’ communities and organizations, and promote personal and collective healing and empowerment.
  • By the end of the course, participants have a chance to share their stories and receive feedback. If resources allow, there may be an opportunity to videotape polished stories for the storytellers’ advocacy efforts – on their own or on behalf of the organization they serve.
  • This unique training was developed by Board President Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas and Vice President Dr. Ursula Whiteside – both psychologists with lived experience of suicide, Sarah Gaer – public speaker, author, suicide loss survivor, and Suicide Prevention Specialist, our national board, and international advisory council to ensure it is inclusive and culturally appropriate for diverse audiences.
  • The typical timeframe is 6-12 hours. In-person is strongly recommended whenever possible.

Potential participants include:

  • Peer specialists/peer supporters
  • Suicide prevention and mental health trainers
  • Public health professionals
  • Those preparing for media engagement
  • Those preparing for legislative testimony
  • Those preparing for public speaking events
  • Content developers, artists, YouTubers, influencers, and potential influencers
  • Therapists who would like to explore or use narrative therapy to help clients
  • Employees working to make change within their organizations
  • Students, advocacy-oriented youth
  • Those wishing to connect more deeply with those around them

If you are interested in booking a retreat, contact us at for pricing and scheduling.

Retreat Trainer Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas’s Tedx Talk on “Stopping Suicide with Story”

More About The Trainers

Sally Spencer Thomas

Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas sees issues of suicide prevention and mental health promotion from a host of perspectives. Clinical psychologist. Mental health advocate. Faculty member. Researcher. And suicide loss survivor. A public speaker and author, she has earned an international reputation as an entrepreneur and innovator in social change, holds numerous leadership roles, and is the recipient of many awards.

Ursula Whiteside

Dr. Ursula Whiteside is a licensed clinical psychologist, the CEO of, and Clinical Faculty at the University of Washington. As a researcher, she has been awarded grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She treats high-risk suicidal clients in her small private practice in Seattle. As one of the first psychologists to publicly disclose that she has experienced suicide ideation, Dr. Whiteside has been featured in films and numerous national media outlets.

Sarah Gaer

Sarah Gaer is an award-winning master’s level clinician with 25 years of experience in the field of mental health care, working as a consultant in suicide prevention and trauma recovery. She spent almost a decade as a Suicide Prevention Specialist focused on men in the middle years and first responders. Sarah is a QPR (Question, Persuade & Refer) Master Trainer. She has delivered keynote addresses and presented her work both internationally and nationally, developed her own training program, and authored three books.

View some of our graduates’ stories that aired on PBS12

Workshop Gallery

In Honor of Diana Cortez Yañez