Starting a Meeting

How We Started Suicide Anonymous

This is how Suicide Anonymous got off the ground - the first Twelve-Step program for people addicted to suicide.  It has been, quite literally, a life-saver.  The power of Suicide Anonymous is not easy to describe; it has to be experienced. 

 Unlike religious organizations, Suicide Anonymous does not judge suicide as a sin; members can share their stories without fearing condemnation.  Unlike mental health professionals, Suicide Anonymous had no obligation to commit suicidal people to psychiatric hospitals.  

We can safely attend meetings without the fear of being "thrown in a mental hospital." 

Those of us who were in on it from the beginning are still dumbfounded by its  strength.  Many of us have years of experience with the Twelve Steps in other fellowships. but we found a fresh and vital energy within Suicide Anonymous.  

Does the power come from ourselves or our subject matter, or is it a gift of God?  The answer really doesn't matter.  For us, our hope is in the meetings of Suicide Anonymous.

How to Start a New Meeting

Suicide Anonymous is based on the 12-Step program of recovery. SA meetings, typically one hour in length, meet on a regular schedule: on the same day(s) of the week at the  same time(s). The days and times are at the discretion of participants. 

All Suicide Anonymous meetings are non-professional and member led. Members usually sign up to the lead meetings, or "chair."

Meetings begin with the leader reading the meeting format. Members read from our readings to provide an atmosphere of recovery. Sample meeting formats and meeting readings can be found at our Downloads page.

 From the beginning, Suicide Anonymous agreed to adopt the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, especially the principles of anonymity, non-professional status, and no dues or fees. 

Phone Numbers

Exchanging phone numbers provides a valuable resource for dealing with crises between meetings, especially late at night. 

Initially reluctant to bother others, we learn to reach out to fellow members for support in a suicidal crisis.  

Members receiving calls feel useful and learn how it feels to be on the receiving end of a suicidal crisis. 

Discussion Meetings

During our meetings, a volunteer chairperson presents a topic and we share our experience or simply listen.  We are encouraged to present our own feelings and ideas instead of responding to others' statements, in order to foster free discussion without criticism.  The last fifteen minutes are reserved for us to "get current" about how we are dealing with suicide.  

Experience has shown us that talking openly about suicide with people who understand the problem lessens the shame and stigma, combats isolation, and teaches us that is is safe to reach our for support in a crisis.

Speaker Meetings

At regular intervals a member shares his or her life story and experience with suicide at a meeting open to members and the public. 

In sharing his or her story, the teller overcomes the shame and stigma of a life of struggle with suicide while the listener identifies with the story and breaks through denial of the full extent of his or her own struggle.