'We cannot underestimate the power of just sitting beside someone’

Mel Clark with Glenn Cotter at the National Suicide Prevention Conference/ 

Connection is a word that is used a lot in the suicide prevention sector, but sometimes we need to pause, take a breath, and think about what connection really means. 

I was fortunate enough to attend Glenn Cotter’s session “Give me a reason why I don't die today “ at the National Suicide Prevention Conference in Adelaide this week. 

Glenn advocates for soul-to-soul connection with other humans and the importance of building trust. He works as a peer worker and shared the story of how he got a crisis call one morning and the person in distress asked for a reason to live.

Initially, Glenn responded with a “textbook answer” but it did not go down well, so he paused and thought about what he wished someone told him and said to the person on the line: “The reason is because I don’t want you to”. 

In my role as the family and carer advocate for SafeSide Prevention, I try to ensure that my values of honesty, vulnerability, and courage to share the truth come through in all conversations I have. 

I firmly believe that is why I am able to connect with people on a meaningful level, even if we only share space for a moment. I would always advocate for open, honest, and meaningful conversations. This reminds me of SafeSide Prevention’s mini intervention “When in doubt, tell the truth”. 

We cannot underestimate the power of just sitting beside someone, listening, and giving them a safe space and agency to talk or sit in silence without making them feel like they are a problem to be solved. 

If anyone reading this was only to take away one thing, I would urge them to acknowledge and include peer work in a meaningful way, not in a tokenistic way, in the suicide prevention sector. 

We need both lived experience and clinical expertise to save lives. We are better together.

Mel Clark

Program Coordinator/Family Advocate 

SafeSide Prevention

Acknowledgement of Country
SafeSide Prevention acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we live and work. We recognise and respect that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People are the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of this country. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Acknowledgement of Lived Experience
We acknowledge the lived experience of those with suicide and mental illness, their families and carers. Their preferences, wishes, needs, and aspirations are at the heart of all the work we do.

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