FAQ

What will you do with my story?
Your story will be posted online at odnhub.ca/storybook. A selection of stories will be published in a book. Stories will be chosen to reflect different perspectives.

What’s the point of sharing my story?

  • Sharing your story may help raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with suicide.
  • Writing a story can help encourage healing through creativity.
  • It may be personally valuable to look back and see how you have grown and healed since the experience.
  • Your story may provide a sense of comfort to those experiencing suicidal thoughts or who have also attempted.
  • Your story may help to give someone else hope for their own future.

If I haven’t attempted suicide myself and a loved one has, can I still submit a story?
Absolutely. We would like to hear from anyone whose life has been touched by suicide.

If this is part of the Ontario Depression Network, do I or the person I care about have to have depression?
No, it is not necessary to have depression – anyone can submit a story.

How long does my story have to be?
We are looking for stories that are about 1800-3500 words long (5-10 pages in length double-spaced).

What should I write about?
You are free to write about any aspect of your experience with suicide. To guide you, we have compiled a list of possible themes to consider in your story:
1. What changed in your life after this experience?
2. How often do you think of your loved one who made a suicide attempt or died by suicide?
3. What were some things you did to heal from this experience?
4. Were there any stressors that led to the suicide attempt?
5. Did you receive support following this experience and describe what that was like?
6. Did you experience stigma associated with your or your loved one’s suicide attempt?

*Please note that explicit content will not be published. Media guidelines on reporting suicide exist and should be adhered to as much as possible. Please click here for the full media guidelines. Below is a summary table of the guidelines:

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and Center for Disease Control, Guidelines for Media Reporting Suicide

AVOID CONVEY
• Details of the method
• The word “suicide” in the headline
• Photo(s) of the deceased
• Admiration of the deceased
• The idea that suicide is unexplainable
• Repetitive or excessive coverage
• Front page coverage
• Exciting reporting
• Romanticized reasons for the suicide
• Simplistic reasons for the suicide
• Approval of the suicide
• Alternatives to suicide (i.e. treatment)
• Community resource information for those with suicidal ideation
• Examples of a positive outcome of a suicidal crisis (i.e. calling a suicide hotline)
• Warning signs of suicidal behaviour
• How to approach a suicidal person
*Click for CDC Guidelines *Click for CASP Guidelines

Mindset Guidelines for Reporting on Mental Health

Suicide Dos and Donts
DON’T DO
• Don’t shy away from writing about suicide. The more taboo, the more the myth
• Don’t romanticize the act
• Don’t jump to conclusions. The reasons why people kill themselves are usually complex
• Don’t suggest nothing can be done because we usually never know why people kill themselves
• Don’t go into details about the method used
• Do look for links to broader social issues
• Do respect the privacy and grief of family or other ‘survivors’
• Do include reference to their suffering
• Do tell others considering suicide how they can get help
Language Best Practices
DON’T DO
• Don’t say the person “committed suicide”. It’s an outdated phrase implying illegality or moral failing
• Don’t call suicide “successful” or attempted suicide “unsuccessful”. Death is not a matter of success.
• Don’t use or repeat pejorative phrases such as “the coward’s way out” which reinforce myths and stigma
• Do use plain words. Say the person “died by suicide”, “killed herself”, or “took his own life”

*Click for Mindset Media Guidelines (suicide reporting detailed on pgs. 30-32)

I’m worried people reading my story will recognize me. What can I do?
You are free to use a pseudonym and change the names of those in your story. However, even if you do change the names, please be aware that there is still a chance people might recognize you based on contextual details of your story. Since this is a delicate issue, it is important that you discuss your story with those who are mentioned in it. Not everyone may want to share their experiences publicly due to the stigma associated with suicide, the possibility of being recognized, or other personal reasons. If you are writing a story about a loved one’s suicide attempt and you have chosen to use real names and/or there is identifying information in your story, you must provide us with a signed liability waiver from that individual. Please be aware that stories will be reviewed to ensure confidentiality of minors due to issues of privacy and consent.

How do I submit my story?
You can email your story to Sakina at RizviSa@smh.ca in .doc, .docx or PDF format along with your signed consent form. Your consent form can be scanned and attached, or you may simply take a photo of each page of the consent form and attach it to the email. If you are not comfortable emailing, you may also send in your story by mail. Please address mailed hard copies to ASR Chair in Suicide & Depression Studies, 193 Yonge Street, 6th Floor, Toronto, ON M5B 1M8.

I’ve submitted my story – now what?
You will receive a confirmation email when your story has been received. All stories will be reviewed according to media guidelines for reporting suicide, as well as privacy and confidentiality. We will notify you once your story has been published online. If your story is chosen for inclusion in the book, you will also be notified. If your story is selected for the book, you will work with an editor prior to publication.

What if I want my story to only appear online and not in the book?
This is completely your choice. If you would prefer only online publication for your story, simply indicate this in your email along with your attached story and signed consent form.

What if I don’t want my story to be available anymore?
If you do not wish to have your story online, please email Sakina and indicate your wish to remove your story from the website. You will receive a confirmation email when this is done. For stories in the book, once your story has been finalized and sent to print, it unfortunately cannot be retracted. Before this time, you can email us to retract your story.

I still have more questions about the Storybook Project. Who can I contact?
For more information, please contact either Sakina at RizviSa@smh.ca or Amanda at CenitiA@smh.ca, or complete our online contact us form. We would be happy to answer your questions!