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The Top 5 Reasons Mainstream Suicide Prevention Strategies Are Failing.

The sad truth is that mainstream suicide prevention tactics, most of which have been in place for over 20 years, are disempowering, ineffective, and focused on the wrong things. The statistics speak for themselves.

Frustrated man in a counseling session
Psychotherapy, counseling, and pharmaceuticals are some of the most common approaches to suicide prevention.

If we’re really going to save lives, we need to take a different approach. Here are the top five reasons traditional approaches are failing and what we can do instead.

1. Mainstream suicide prevention approaches rely too heavily on hope.

Whether we realize it or not, when we rely on hope to save us, we are saying, “I no longer believe in myself or anyone else to help me find a solution.”

“You just have to have hope.” Imagine hearing those words when you are barely holding on, questioning your worth, and feeling that you don’t have anyone to blame but yourself.

Hope is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t address or resolve the root causes of mental health challenges. Hope can also be easily lost, leaving people alone in their darkest moments and ashamed for being unable to hold on to the one thing everyone keeps saying will save them.

And while hope may be a beacon of light for some, for those who don’t have any, it is just one more indicator that they’ve failed.

We focus on awareness and understanding.

All That We Are® provides the knowledge, tools, and resources to discover and effectively address root causes. Understanding the cause and how to take action is what gives us real hope that healing is possible and that we can live a life we love.

2. Mainstream approaches often perpetuate stigma.

It isn’t simply how often we talk about mental health and suicide; it is how we talk about each that matters.

Unfortunately, many advocates and mental health professionals perpetuate the very stigma they are trying to end due to a lack of awareness of how to talk about it safely and effectively. Not only that, many are unaware of safe language and unintentionally cause harm to themselves and others each time they share their story.

We’re spreading the awareness that language matters.

All That We Are® takes tremendous pride in teaching Safe Language that not only eliminates stigma, but it ensures the safety and well-being of those sharing their story as well as those listening.

3. Mainstream tactics are fear-based and difficult to apply.

Conventional suicide prevention tactics can often only be applied during a simulation or an actual crisis. This conditions people to react from a place of fear and uncertainty rather than a place of compassion and understanding.

People often leave suicide prevention training sessions feeling overwhelmed by statistics and warning signs—fearing the worst-case scenario and questioning if they are actually equipped to handle crisis situations.

We make prevention & intervention strategies easy to understand and apply.

Rather than fear-based messaging and training programs, All That We Are® teaches you how to create a safe space for meaningful connections. We also provide straightforward information that is easy to understand and apply. For example, we don’t teach dozens of warning signs that someone is at risk for suicide; we teach the three factors that put someone at risk:

  1. Extreme Distress

  2. Isolation

  3. Shift in Belief

3. Mainstream approaches are focused on intervention—not prevention.

Yes, knowing how to respond to someone in crisis is a skill that everyone is encouraged to learn. However, when we are taught how to drive, the focus is not on how to stop a car accident. It is how to drive safely.

Mainstream suicide prevention tactics are primarily focused on stopping suicide in the moment of crisis (intervention) rather than teaching you how to live your best life (prevention). How effective is this approach if you don’t believe you can live a life worth living?

All That We Are® teaches you how to live your best life.

We provide a clear understanding of our physical, mental, and emotional health, how they are connected, and how they impact every aspect of who we are. Understanding the cause of challenges and how to take action is what gives us real hope that healing is possible and that we can live a life we love.

5. Mainstream approaches give all the control to mental health professionals.

The current mental health system is overwhelmed, under-trained, and ill-equipped for the growing number of people seeking professional crisis intervention.

Still, the mainstream approach teaches you to direct someone who is feeling suicidal to call 911, go to the emergency department, or see a trained professional. However, rushing to hand them off to someone else can delay life-saving support and can cause even more distress.

We believe everyone can be a source of comfort and support in times of crisis.

Having thoughts of suicide and being suicidal is a natural response to extreme distress. And when someone is in crisis, what they need more than anything is to know that they are not alone and that they are worthy of love.

Our methods don’t require a crisis—they can be practiced on a daily basis. The more you practice during everyday experiences, the more confident you’ll be during an actual crisis.

We teach the simple SIT method.

  • Slow down & create stability

  • Intentional conversations

  • Transition to next steps

Want an example of how to use SIT? Watch this video.

It’s up to us to fight for the lives we love!

Focusing on living a life you love—and helping others to do the same—is a powerful way to inspire people to overcome their challenges. Not only that but by teaching people how to achieve a life they love, we reduce the risk of crisis in the first place.

Want to learn more about our approach? Join us for one of our free online events.


All That We Are® (ATWA) is changing how society responds to mental health, emotional crises, and suicide. By challenging the traditional path of health and wellness, we're making it possible for everyone to live a life they love.

Founder, Jenny Thrasher, has a B.A. in Psychology, extensive training as a crisis counselor, and is a public educator on crisis and suicide prevention. With the knowledge she'd gained over her career and her own firsthand experiences, she founded ATWA with an inspiring vision: to help people heal by living a life they love — something traditional suicide prevention practices have failed to do.

Jenny has successfully implemented her approach in communities and organizations across the U.S. and Canada, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Sudan, Italy, Dubai, the U.K., Australia, and Ireland.


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