Everything We Knew About Suicide… Is Wrong

David W. Covington, Everything we knew about suicide was wrong, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0In “How to Train Your Dragon,” the citizens of Berk had observed, measured, categorized and chronicled dragons for decades. They thought they knew most everything there was to know about these violent beasts. But when Hiccup, a small, anything-but-Norse-like-warrior boy comes into contact with one of the most feared and misunderstood dragons, his eyes are opened wide. Putting aside his preconceived notion of dragons, he develops a loving friendship with “Toothless,” admitting, “Everything we know about you guys…is wrong.” Read more

Can Clinical Match the Power of Peer Supports?

David W. Covington, Clinical Versus Peer Supports, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0Generally, people ask the opposite question looking to researchers to examine the outcomes of peer supports and comparing them with established clinical best practices. Consider, though, the school shooting that was averted due to the actions of a peer. How would we clinicians have done in her shoes? Read more

Robin Williams & #Standupfor Cancer

David W. Covington, Recovery, Robin Williams, Stand Up For Cancer, Behavioral Health Version 3.0
Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com

As national leaders in suicide prevention, we can say with all urgency that our field can learn a lot from the fight against cancer.

A bittersweet irony of Robin Williams’ death by suicide was the support he gave to the fight against cancer, which, like suicide, takes millions of lives. He was a strong backer of St. Jude’s Research Center and Stand Up to Cancer, and he visited patients and brought joy into lives that would be cut short as unfairly as his was.

We once whispered about cancer, but the movement to Read more

The Oxford Declaration: No One Should Die Alone and in Despair

David W. Covington, Zero Suicide, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0“We are at the beginning of this journey and we start out from the core value that no one of our patients should die alone and in despair by suicide.” This challenge, issued by Dutch psychiatrist Jan Mokkenstorm, became the shared declaration for the first international gathering of organizations committed to Zero Suicide in Health Care,  Read more

Why “Jumpers” is the Wrong Word

David W. Covington, Gap Park, Suicide as Choice, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0I just returned from a whistle-stop speaking tour in New Zealand and Australia. While it was only a brief week-long trip, I brought back so many amazing memories of the people and places. The most indelible by far was Gap Park, just five miles outside Sydney. The park sits atop cliffs that outline the coast for miles on the city’s eastern side. Read more

Historic Summit Celebrating Lived Experience (San Francisco)

National Action Alliance, David W. Covington, Suicide Prevention, Recovery,  Behavioral Health Version 3.0In “Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat Solitano talks about his friend Tiffany with his psychiatrist. He questions whether he, like Tiffany, can like “that [‘shameful’] part” of himself along with all the other parts.

“Can you?” Dr. Jones asks.

“You’re really asking me that question? What, with all my crazy sad[ness]… Are you [completely] nuts?” Pat says. Read more

Is Suicide Really a Choice?

shutterstock_3191962After multiple trips down the hall, I dumped the last bucket of ice into the bathtub, then topped it off with cold water.  Just a couple hours earlier, I had completed my first marathon in New York’s Central Park, finishing fifteen minutes north of three hours. My legs cramped badly in the last half-mile, and after returning to our hotel, my friend Michael and I thought it would be a good idea to do what the professionals do to expedite recovery: take an ice bath. Read more

Zero Suicide in Healthcare

Zero Suicide, David W. Covington, Behavioral Health Version 3.0, Recovery“Over the decades, individual [mental health] clinicians have made heroic efforts to save lives… but systems of care have done very little.” With this quote from SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Bureau Chief Richard McKeon, we launched our two-day kick-off meeting of the new Zero Suicide in Healthcare Advisory Board last week in Baltimore, Maryland.

Nearly 20 years ago, I received a phone call that I was unprepared for. Read more

25% Peers by Tuesday

Peer Leadership, Recovery, David W. Covington, Behavioral Health Version 3.0 His reaction was definitely not one I was anticipating: he looked disgusted, ready to spit. It was 2010, and I had just been blown away at the NAMI Arizona annual conference by Phil Pangrazio’s keynote. Phil is President and CEO of the Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL). Phil, himself disabled, oversees $30 million in a wide array of programs Read more

No Recovery By Force

No Recovery by Force, Seclusion and Restraint, David W. Covington, Recovery, Behavioral Health Version 3.0There were only two of us left in the group room and the ten chairs that had been in a circle were now scattered. To my left 15-year old Kenneth* towered over me holding his chair above his head, with huge tears streaming down, his lips quivering, the angriest I had ever seen him. To my right, I could see my co-worker Mark, standing outside in the hall, peering through the small round portal in the door. He was holding his hand to his ear like a phone and his eyes were questioning. We didn’t need to talk for me to know he wanted to call 9-1-1. Read more