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Dese’Rae L. Stage

Suicidologist, Social
Worker, Speaker,
Activist, Therapist

Who Are You?

The nutshell: I’m an artist, mom, suicidologist, social worker, educator, advocate/activist (which of the latter depends on how angry I am), and therapist.

I’m a writer and self-taught photographer with experience in music journalism. I have an academic background in psychology and suicidology, I’m trained in crisis intervention (ASIST, QPR), and I’m a certified QPR trainer. I also have lived experience with chronic suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide loss—experiences I center in my work.

I tie these threads together with Live Through This, a multimedia storytelling series that aims to reduce prejudice and discrimination against suicide attempt survivors. It reminds us that suicide is a human issue by elevating and amplifying survivors’ voices through raw, honest stories of survival, and pairing them with portraits—putting faces and names to statistics that have been the only representation of attempt survivors in the past. I’ve interviewed and photographed 188 attempt survivors in 36 US cities since 2010.

Live Through This is used as a resource by clinicians and as a teaching tool at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I’ve partnered and published with research teams in an effort to bring attempt survivor experiences to the forefront of suicide research.

Live Through This has received media coverage from the New York Times, TIME, CNN, CBS Evening News, VICE, People Magazine, and many, many more.

I speak about my work and experiences at universities and suicide prevention events nationwide. Highlights, for me, have been sharing a bill with Kay Redfield Jamison at the NIMH Director’s Innovation Speaker Series, being invited to speak at a roundtable event on Capitol Hill by Congresswoman Susan Wild, and delivering a Thought Leader Session at the American Association of Suicidology’s annual conference in 2020.

I produce and co-host the Suicide ‘n’ Stuff vidcast with Jess Stohlmann-Rainey. I host the Grief TV vidcast. I’m also the main protagonist in a documentary about suicide prevention advocates called The S Word, currently streaming on Amazon Prime. My byline has appeared in Cosmopolitan (gay divorce), CNN (suicide), Romper (infertility), and more.

Before I had kids, my hobbies included Netflix marathons, dive bar jukebox takeovers, live music, beer (opaque, viscous, sweet stouts or the funkiest of sours) and cocktails, and talking about suicide. Now, my hobbies are naps, talking about suicide, and talking about infertility. I was fun at parties before COVID and parenting made them obsolete.

You can download a copy of my curriculum vitae (CV) here.

Therapy Practice

I am a queer, white, cisgender single parent living with a number of psychiatric diagnoses I both agree with and disagree with, depending on which. It’s important to me to be transparent about my positionality, in terms of my identity and lived experiences, as well as being someone who seeks mental health services, myself—I know what it’s like to be in the therapy chair and sitting across from it. To that end, I come to my work as a partner and a support, rather than an expert.

My practice is trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, and person-centered. Using an eclectic approach, mainly rooted in relational and attachment-based work, alongside some CBT techniques and DBT skills training, I work with teens and adults with concerns related to suicidal ideation and self-injury, grief/traumatic loss, ADHD, depression, anxiety, mood and personality disorders, gender and sexual identity, fertility challenges (especially for those who are visibly queer), queer family-building, and pregnancy loss.

I approach my work through a relational lens—I am a person, and I will be a person with you in the therapy room. I show up to my practice and hold space with authenticity, humor, compassion, and empathy.

I am now taking clients with Kintsugi Mental Wellness. I offer telehealth appointments for your convenience. For more information, feel free to reach out via email or by using the contact form.


Academic Publications

Devendorf, A., Victor, S., Rottenberg, J., Miller, R., Lewis, S. P., Muehlenkamp, J. J., & Stage, D. L. (2023). Stigmatizing our own: Self-relevant research is common but frowned upon in clinical, counseling, and school psychology. Clinical Psychological Science, 216770262211416. doi: 10.1177/21677026221141655

Victor, S. E., Devendorf, A., Lewis, S. P., Rottenberg, J., Muehlenkamp, J. J., Stage, D. L., & Miller, R. H. (2022). Only human: Mental health difficulties among clinical, counseling, and school psychology faculty and trainees. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17(6), 1576–1590. doi: 10.1177/17456916211071079

Victor, S. E., Schleider, J. L., Ammerman, B. A., Bradford, D. E., Devendorf, A. R., Gunaydin, L. A., Hallion, L. S., Kaufman, E. A., Lewis, S. P., & Stage, D. L. (2022). Leveraging the Strengths of Psychologists with Lived Experience of Mental Illness. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17(6), 1624–1632. doi: 10.1177/17456916211072826

Frey, L. M., Drapeau, C. W., Fulginiti, A., Oexle, N., Stage, D. L., Sheehan, L., Cerel, J., & Moore, M. (2019). Recipients of suicide-related disclosure: The link between disclosure & posttraumatic-growth for suicide attempt survivors. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(20), 3815. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16203815

Hom, M. A., Bauer, B. W., Stanley, I. H., Boffa, J. W., Stage, D. L., Capron, D. W., Schmidt, N. B., & Joiner, T. E. (2019). Suicide Attempt Survivors’ Recommendations for Improving Mental Health Treatment for Attempt Survivors. Psychological Services. doi: 10.1037/pro0000265

Hom, M. A., Albury, E. A., Gomez, M. M., Christensen, K., Stanley, I. H., Stage, D. L., & Joiner, T. E. (2019). Suicide attempt survivors’ experiences with mental health care services: A mixed methods study. Professional Psychology: Research and Practicedoi: 10.1037/pro0000265

Stanley, I. H., Hom, M. A., Boffa, J. W., Stage, D. L., & Joiner, T. E. (2019). PTSD from a suicide attempt: An empirical investigation among suicide attempt survivors. Journal of Clinical Psychology. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22833

Frey, L. M., Fulginiti, A., Sheehan, L., Oexle, N., Stage, D. L., & Stohlmann-Rainey, J. (2019). What’s in a word Clarifying terminology on suicide-related communication. Death Studies, 1–11. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2019.1614111

Williams, S. M., Frey, L. M., Stage, D. L., & Cerel, J. (2018). Exploring lived experience in gender and sexual minority suicide attempt survivors. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry88(6), 691–700. doi: 10.1037/ort0000334

*** Feel free to email me if you would like a PDF copy of any of the above.