TIPS002: Surviving and Thriving after a Suicide Attempt, with Dese’Rae Stage

TIPS001: Coming out of the Closet and Becoming Your Truest Self with Matthew Shaffer
July 29, 2017
TIPS003: Mrs. D is Going Without and Going Sober with Lotta Dann
July 29, 2017

TIPS002: Surviving and Thriving after a Suicide Attempt, with Dese’Rae Stage

Dese’Rae L. Stage is a photographer, occasional writer, and suicide awareness activist. In 2010, Dese’Rae founded a portrait and oral history series on survivors of suicide attempts, called Live Through This.

Click to tweet: Des Stage shares her incredible journey on the i’Mpossible Show!


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Time Stamped Notes

  • 1.27  suicide has been a part of Des’ life for a long time. She lost a family friend to suicide at a young age
  • 1.57 Des suffered from depression in high school. Slept a lot in class. Her grades went from great to poor. Failed marching band. Began to figure out she was gay. Began self-harming.
  • 2.25 Des was having suicidal thoughts as early as high school
  • 2.33  As early as high school Des began learning about psychology and suicide, so she could help people thinking of suicide
  • 3.03 As an undergraduate in college Des wanted to begin a project on suicide (prevention) and all of her professors said, No. Wait till grad school.
  • 3.37  In college Des was in a physically and emotionally abusive and co-dependent relationship, her first great love. Alongside the relationship, Des became intensely suicidal
  • 4.15  June 2006, Des attempted to take her own life
  • 4.26 Des had an incredible support system of family and friends that helped save her life
  • 4.55 After ending grad school prematurely and being told “no” again in regards to her want to create a suicide prevention project, Des left the idea behind, got a job at a record label and began her photography career
  • 5.27 Des photographed concerts for 3 years. She interviewed Amanda (Fucking) Palmer and Tori Amos among others
  • 6.05 Des found that there was nothing in the world that addressed surviving a suicide attempt—people just like her
  • 7.25 Des merged art and advocacy—photography and suicide prevention—to create Live Through This, “LTT,” which helps tell the stories of suicide attempt survivors around the world. As of July 20, 2017; Des has been working on LTT for 7 years
  • 10:00 Some of what brought on Des’ suicidality as a teen: a live-in uncle who struggled with addiction and threated to harm Des’ grandmother, Des figuring out her sexuality, and a lack of coping skills
  • 14.19 Josh and Des are both married to a (different) woman. High fives!
  • 15.37 A lot of major change all at once CAN be (not definite) a catalyst for suicidal thinking
  • 16.11    Disclosing a past suicide attempt to a future or current employer cannot (is illegal) be the basis of denying employment or the basis of termination of employment
  • 18.01 What people who are suicidal need the most is someone to listen and someone to be there for them—not a savior. Saving lives can often be a much quieter process
  • 18.38 Des does not regret her past suicide attempt but she does not want to relive it
  • 19.11 After her suicide attempt, Des realized how much she loves her life
  • 22.57 Quick fire round: Ellen Page would play Des if someone were to make a movie of her life. Listen more for Des;’ fave and least fave words and her spirit animal. Who is Dolly Parton to Des’?
  • 27.33 Des consulted on the Broadway show and Tony Award winner Dear Evan Hansen on how to accurately and safely depict someone thinking of suicide

Key Points

  • Support is available to everyone—whether it is apparent or not. If it isn’t apparent it just means that you haven’t met that person yet, however they DO exist
  • It is possible to turn past pain and past mistakes from liabilities into assets—at the very least by sharing your story to benefit others
  • It is possible to find purpose and meaning in one’s life without having to experience something painful first

Resources or Websites Mentioned

Dese’Rae’s websites:

Dese’Rae’s social media:  Facebook @livethroughthis,  Twitter @LTTphoto and @deseraestage

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

If outside the U.S., here is a list of crisis lines around the world:


At 21.25 the movie Josh was referring to is: Pride, which came out in 2014