Story Guidelines

We greatly appreciate the personal stories sent to Active Minds

We welcome stories about hope, recovery, or help-seeking to accompany a backpack in the Send Silence Packing® suicide prevention display. We also include stories in Active Minds presentations, on our website, and in other communications as part of our mission to educate and change the conversation about mental health.

We welcome stories from friends and family members who have survived the loss of a loved one or suicide attempt survivors, and are particularly interested in highlighting stories that focus on positive actions or pursued advocacy efforts, hope, and recovery. Complex feelings (i.e.anger, resentment, annoyance) commonly ensue after the suicide of a loved one. While all feelings are natural and valid, Send Silence Packing aims to highlight messages of hope and help-seeking. The chief goal is to ensure that all visitors leave with specific ideas about how they can be part of the change. That includes emphasizing parts of the story, resources, and calls to action that can help inspire visitors to join the movement for suicide prevention. We work very closely with each writer to ensure that the writer is happy with the final outcome and that it supports our chief goal.

The messages in Send Silence Packing stories focus on resilience, hope, and help-seeking. For example:

  • Stories about hope or recovery
  • Stories about positive action or advocacy taken after the loss of a loved one
  • Stories that focus on the life of the loved one who was lost, rather than their death
  • Stories from survivors of suicide attempts
  • Stories that point readers to help-seeking resources
  • Stories that convey to readers that they are not alone in their struggles with mental health 

Stories should NOT include the following:

  • Descriptions of the means by which the person died by suicide, detailed information about the location, or graphic details about the state in which the person was found
  • Suggesting in any way that suicide is the way to deal with difficulties
  • Graphic descriptions of comorbid mental health conditions including self harm and eating disorders
  • Making fun of or bullying someone
  • Use of profane language
  • Using inflammatory language against people on the basis of race, color, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, and/or disability
  • Using demeaning language against individuals with mental health conditions and disabilities
  • Idealizing the act or after effects of suicide by stating, for example, that your loved one (who died by suicide) is now at peace, in a better place, or no longer in pain.
  • Naming a specific medication or behavioral health service/provider
  • Discussing a school or workplace negatively
  • Glorifying negative coping behaviors, such as self-injury or substance abuse
  • Describing one’s suicide as “inexplicable” or “without warning”
  • Expressing explicit blame or resentment toward the loved one lost to suicide or a suicide survivor
  • Blaming an identifiable individual for a death by suicide
  • Assumptions about others’ thoughts and feelings

Refer to these writing guidelines

  • Use person-first language (e.g., “person with anorexia” vs. “anorexic”)
  • When discussing suicide, use the phrase “died by suicide” or “took their own life” rather than “committed suicide.” The word “committed” connotes a crime or being committed to a hospital.
  • Refrain from describing a suicide attempt as “failed” or “successful/unsuccessful”
  • “Suicide survivor” or “suicide loss survivor” refers to the family member or friend of the person who died by suicide.
  • “Suicide attempt survivor” refers to a person who has attempted suicide.
  • Cite any statistics or facts from outsides source that you use in your story.


  • By submitting your story or photo, you agree that Active Minds may use them in materials that support mental health awareness or suicide prevention as described on the Media Release.
  • Some stories can be sensitive in nature. First and foremost, consider your own health and well-being when making the decision to share your experiences.
  • If your story is selected for use, Active Minds will often include your first name, last initial, city, and state along with your story.
  • If Active Minds selects your story, there may be some edits made for the sake of ensuring program safety. If this is the case, we will contact you for your consent on the revisions.
  • Talking about suicide and mental health is not always easy. For this reason, Active Minds is truly grateful that you are sharing your story with us!

how to submit your story

Please complete the Story Submission form.

If you are also interested in sending a backpack to accompany your story, please check the appropriate box on the form. All backpack donations can be sent to Active Minds c/o Send Silence Packing, 2001 S Street NW, Suite 700, Washington DC 20009.


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