Words Save Lives is a statewide event in Kansas where people gather during National Suicide Prevention month to be in community with others whose lives have been impacted by suicide. Performers share words, songs, and other forms of art because of their own connection to suicide. They have the wholehearted desire to help others in the room experience belonging, connection, and safety. This event features diverse performers in age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ability, veteran status, and more. All Words Save Lives events are emceed by a local poet or artist, and local mental health professionals, advocates, and organizations focused on suicide prevention are invited to attend.
Attendees are invited to wear one or more colored dots that symbolize their connection to suicide. These dots help reduce the shame and stigma associated with openly discussing suicidal thoughts, ideations, survived attempts, or the grief of losing a loved one to suicide. The dots serve to build connections between people in order to help them openly and safely discuss their emotions and challenges.
Words Save Lives began in Lawrence, KS, and has been hosted annually by Marcia Epstein, LMSW on World Suicide Prevention Day. She began this tradition on September 10, 2014, with the goal of bringing artists, mental health professionals, and members of the community together to build a space of support and awareness surrounding the impacts of suicide.
Our Beliefs and Core Values
Words save lives. Communication is the first step.
Communication through art saves lives.
Living a life one is GLAD to live is the opposite of dying by suicide. “Suicide prevention” is not the ultimate goal.
Increasing our connections, our sense of belonging, and our sense of being valued makes life worth living.
Social justice makes life worth living for all.
Each person is the expert in their own experience.
We value people of all identities and experiences. We hold special love and respect for those who are marginalized.
Many of us have multiple experiences with suicide: living with suicide grief; living with suicide thoughts, attempts and/or self-harm; supporting loved one(s) who struggle with suicide; and/or doing paid or volunteer work with people who struggle with suicide.
No being is summed up by one of their identities or experiences.
Communication through art saves lives!
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, ideations, recovery from an attempt, or grieving the loss of a loved one who died by suicide, here are a few resources that can help.
*Kansas is served by three 988 centers: COMCARE of Sedgwick County, Johnson County Mental Health Center, and Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ.