Dese’Rae L. Stage
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.
I am a queer, white cisgender woman living with chronic pain and a number of psychiatric diagnoses I both agree with and disagree with, depending on which. I have lived through multiple suicide attempts and I have lost many in my life to suicide. I currently spend much of my time in therapy processing my own trauma so that I can live my life more healthily and so I can serve my clients and community in the same way. It’s important to me to be transparent about my positionality, especially as someone who seeks mental health services—I know what it’s like to be in the chair and sitting across from it.
My practice is trauma-informed and person-centered. I do not believe I am the expert, and I come to my work with clients as a partner and a support. My specialties are in working with those experiencing chronic suicidality, self-injury, grief, and traumatic loss. I approach my work through a relational lens, and I have an interest in narrative and Internal Family Systems frameworks.
I am now taking clients with Kintsugi Mental Wellness. I offer telehealth appointments for your convenience . For more information, feel free to reach out using the contact form.
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 Practice. doi: 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 Orthopsychiatry, 88(6), 691–700. doi: 10.1037/ort0000334
*** Feel free to email me if you would like a PDF copy of any of the above.
Trying, a year-long column for Romper on my struggles with infertility.
Talking and Sharing Are Key to Suicide Prevention (CNN Opinion)
It’s Easy to Vilify Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain for Selfishness—But Here’s Why We Shouldn’t (First for Women)
What Dreams May Come: What Robin Williams’ Suicide Teaches Us About How to Save Lives (HuffPost Healthy Living)
A Decade of Living After Trying to Die (The Mighty)
What the Media Shouldn’t Forget When Covering the Rising Suicide Rate (The Mighty)
I Lived: On Rising Suicide Rates and Media Responsibility (HuffPost Impact)
This Researcher Who Studies Self-Injury Explains Why People Do It. And Why He Did It. (Upworthy)
Robin Williams, One Year Later: What Will Your Verse Be? (HuffPost Impact)
It Happened to Me: My Dad Died in Prison Years Ago, But He Keeps Breaking My Heart (xoJane)
I Fought for the Right to Get Married—and Now I’m Divorced (Cosmopolitan)