Hi, I'm Dese'Rae L. Stage, and I'm a photographer, occasional writer, and suicide awareness activist.

Looking back, I've always had an interest in capturing the moment, whether it was with the written word or a snapshot of someone I loved. Eventually, I picked up a camera with the hope of making more intentional images. I started out by using the chaos and movement of live music to work on technical mastery and photographic intuition while exploring the relationship between fame and isolation. I found that my passion lies in portraiture--in the honest connection between myself and the subject--and my work, overall, is rooted in moments of deep emotional meaning.

In 2010, I started what has become my main work: a portrait and oral history series on survivors of suicide attempts, called Live Through This. Historically, attempt survivors have been reduced to statistics,
which strips them of their humanity and contributes to the pervasive 'not in my backyard' mentality about who is susceptible to suicide. This is incredibly dangerous in a time when suicide rates are rising consistently in the US.

Live Through This answers the questions of who attempts suicide, why, and what happens after. It breaks stereotypes about what kinds of people live with suicidal minds. It asks the viewer to look into the eyes of the survivors, to read their stories, and to find a bit of themselves there. It shows, unequivocally, that no one is immune to suicide. Recognizing this and changing the conversation could mean saving lives.

As with the work of many artists, this work is personal: I lived through a suicide attempt in 2006 and spent years in shame and silence.

In February 2013, I raised $23,000 via Kickstarter to take the project on the road. As of January 2017, I've photographed 180 suicide attempt survivors in 13 US cities.

Live Through This has been covered by the New York Times, Associated Press, Upworthy, NPR, and more. I speak regularly at universities and various professional and academic conferences nationally. I've made commentary on various radio and TV programs (including the Glenn Beck Program). I recently won the SXSW Community Service Award and the Transforming Lived Experience Award from the American Association of Suicidology. I was once named New Yorker of the Week by NY1 News, and I've even told my story onstage to a room full of science enthusiasts while violently ill. My writing has been published in Cosmopolitan, xoJane, and Huffington Post.

On a personal level, I'm consistently drawn to good books, good coffee, clove cigarettes, typography, street art, and the long, drawn-out process of turning my own body into a quietly inked pictorial memoir. I live in Philadelphia with my wife and our tiny family of creatures.

You can download my full CV here. Wanna send me a note or book me for a shoot? Email me at psst@deseraestage.com. You can buy prints of my work at my Etsy shop. If you'd like to book me for a speaking engagement, shoot an email to speak@livethroughthis.org.
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