care not treatment

lived experience contributions for understanding and responding better to suicide distress/crisis

About this work: 


This film was a core component of the Learning from Lived Experience (LfLE) Suicide Prevention Project by LELAN (

Through the LfLE Project lived experience insights and solution ideas for improving community, service and system responses to suicide distress and crisis were gathered in video and written form. We wanted to know what helped, what harmed and what could be done better.


This specific focus was chosen as the lived experience community frequently tell us that service responses in times of crisis are inadequate, and even compound the distress they are experiencing.


The film centers the lives and wisdom of eleven people who have been personally affected by suicide distress and crisis (their profiles are below the film). They generously share their experiences so that the broader voice, influence and leadership of people with lived experience may collectively drive the changes we so desperately need.

Summary data from a survey of people with lived experience of suicide distress and crisis can be accessed here and a pictorial representation of a true Alternative to Emergency Department designed by the lived experience community can be accessed here

The film and results of the survey provided LELAN a strong advocacy platform for change centred in peer-led community-based support options for people experiencing suicide distress and crisis. This has now been realised through our Alternatives to Suicide (Alt2Su) project that you can learn more about here.  


Care not Treatment film:



The people we heard from:   

Aaron (he/him)

Aaron (he/him)

Aaron currently lives in Adelaide, working for the South Australian Government whilst studying a Bachelor of Laws.

Aaron was first admitted to a mental health facility at the age of 14; received a diagnosis of dysthymia and eventually Borderline Personality Disorder. For several years, he experienced depression, anxiety, self-harm, impulsiveness, self-sabotaging behaviours and spent long periods in hospital.

Aaron has a passion for listening and offering ideas to teenagers and adults experiencing BPD. Aaron has given several talks to both those with lived experience of BPD, their families and mental health professionals. Aaron believes problems associated with BPD can be reduced through education and better access to mental health treatments.

Aaron is also passionate about educating and reducing stigma in mental health and believes that lived experience assistance should be available in crisis situations.

Aaron enjoys spending time with his daughter, Violet, 11 and playing multiple instruments.

 [Photo credit: Henry Trumble for SANE Australia]


Brooke (she/her)

Brooke (she/her)

Brooke is a proud Ngarrindjeri woman who is passionate about advocating for mental health and making a change. Brooke has her own personal lived experience of suicide, crisis and distress spanning from when she was in high school.

Brooke has experience in sharing her story, sharing at the annual Neami conference. She has also been involved in other advocacy opportunities with LELAN, contributing her lived expertise to develop the Philosophy of Care with TACSI.

Before participating in the Learning from Lived Experience Project, she hoped that it would show that a lot of people are in the same boat and help people in crisis feel less alone. She hopes for a 24/7 mental health hospital in the future with people who show empathy and understanding, and where people in crisis can feel safe and valued.

Brooke is a creative and passionate person who enjoys brunch, all things Disney, and dogs. On the weekends you can find her hanging out with her friends and indulging in food.


Emrys (he/him)

Emrys (he/him)

Emrys is a 24-year-old working as a Mental Health Peer Support Worker, after over a decade of experiencing mental ill health and his own recovery journey. Being a member of the LQBTQIA+ community, experiencing Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain, and a diverse range of trauma – some of which include psychosis, involuntary inpatient treatment, and long-term suicidal distress – has fuelled his passion for combining scientific, holistic and trauma-informed approaches to recovery.

He has been told what “people like him” could not achieve, by “professionals” who did not who he was outside his mental distress and believes everyone should be supported to flourish towards what creates meaning in their lives.

Emrys is currently involved in amplifying the Lived Experience voice within his workplace, through projects with LELAN, and is increasing his activism and leadership skills.

Emrys strives to become an emerging leader, as he knows every voice has value, and he wants to listen to people as much as he desires to be heard. Outside of mental health he spends his time creating art, writing poetry, working on his car and enjoys connecting with nature.

Please note: at the time of the documentary Emrys had not come out as trans – his journey and presentation has changed since recording.


Lucy (she/her)

Lucy (she/her)

21-year-old Lucy lost her father to suicide when she was just 15 years old. She has since become passionate about suicide prevention, wanting to prevent other people from going through what she and her family went through.  

Living in a small rural town, Lucy is in her final year of her undergraduate studies of Psychology and is hoping to continue studying her Masters in Mental Health Social Work.   

A member of StandBy’s SA Country Advisory Group, Lucy has been on a range of forums giving her experience in how to use her voice as a rural youth representative and speak for people that need help. 

When she completes her study, Lucy hopes to continue working in rural areas, and to bring initiatives like the mental health training of stock agents and herd testers to help spot the warning signs of suicide in isolated farmers.  

In her spare time, Lucy likes to watch tv shows and both play and watch sport. 


Aaron (he/him)

Aaron (he/him)

Aaron is a 36-year-old male with a formal degree in mathematics and an interest in physics (both Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity) and philosophy (primarily the existential philosophers). When not studying these subjects, he is usually watching obscure offensive films, playing video games or listening to ridiculously extreme heavy metal music.

Aaron has three daughters, ages 17, 9 and 5 who are the light of his life.

Aaron has personal experience with mental illness since being an early teenager and drug and alcohol abuse for nearly as long. Aaron has survived two significant suicide attempts and has had very many hospital admissions spanning a twelve-year period.

Aaron’s interest in advocating for a better mental health system is the hope that the services provided and the providers themselves can make the consumers experience much more beneficial and much less distressing.


Charlotte (she/her)

Charlotte (she/her)

Charlotte, a 22-year-old female, has been actively speaking of mental health and striving to make a difference since her teenage years. In 2015 and 2016 she held fundraisers for charities – including SANE Australia. Generating over $15,000. She has also been active in public speaking at various events and prevention networks.

Before filming her interview for the Learning from Lived Experience Suicide Prevention Project, Charlotte wanted the film to uncover the fact that there are so many different things that can lead to suicide. In her own personal experience Charlotte has had both mental pain and physical pain that factored into the lead up to suicide.

In her spare time Charlotte likes to play football and netball. 


Hannah (they/them)

Hannah (they/them)

Hannah is a 32-year-old non-binary person with a lived experience story of overcoming adversity, self-advocacy, and hope. Hannah has been accessing mental health services for more than a decade and understands the barriers to accessing suitable and practical help, especially as a LGBTIAQ+ person with chronic illness. 

Hannah is valued-driven and passionate about making a difference in the community; they are a qualified youth worker and have worked in the non-profit sector for 8 years, using their own experience of mental ill-health to empower young people facing difficult circumstances.

Hannah advocates for equity through structural change, prevention, and early-intervention, and is passionate about mental health literacy, also working as a Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer. They are currently studying psychological science and hope to use their personal and professional experience to bust the stigma around mental illness and suicidality, improving access to useful mental health supports, so others do not have to face the same discrimination and barriers to recovery that they did.

Hannah also provides emergency pet foster care for people in crisis, to ensure people can be reunited with their pets once the crisis has passed. They love being in nature, travelling, reading, and spending time with their friends and partner.  


Nathan (he/him)

Nathan (he/him)

Nathan has been a passionate and outspoken advocate, punk, metalhead dag for much of his adult life. He has been in and out of the mental health system for almost two decades. He has survived torture and abuse, multiple addictions and a number of attempts on his life over the years and has reached a point where he has developed an understanding of the complexity of his experiences and mental health that goes well beyond what can be found in the DSM – V.

For a number of years Nathan has been working to privilege the voices of those people who are least included in conversations and has worked as a trauma/addictions counsellor, support worker and mental health advocate. He has long sought to highlight the ways in which mental health professionals can focus on tick box approaches to support, which can invalidate and simplify the lives of people living with distress.

For the purpose of increasing awareness and recognition of the social, political, economic, and physical drivers of distress that can’t be fixed with medication and/or hospitalisation.

Nathan is a self-described metal maniac who spends a lot of time listening to music, gardening, and playing video games. He has been working towards getting back to his guerrilla gardening roots that tie into his unwavering belief that food should be free for everyone who is hungry.


Anne-Marie (she/her)

Anne-Marie (she/her)

Anne-Marie was born in regional South Australia and is a proud mother to two (now adult) daughters.

After her husband suicided in 2014, Anne-Marie decided she had two choices; either hide behind a curtain and pretend this incident didn’t happen or become proactive and try and make a difference so no one else had to go through the same nightmare. She and her daughters have ever since tried in their own small way to eliminate the stigma of mental health and make a difference through awareness and education.

She is a member and instigator of the local Wellness Group and has helped organise various wellbeing sessions for her community  Some of the sessions she has assisted organising include a five week intensive MensWatch programme, engage a Counsellor to visit the town (many people didn’t know what a Counsellor even was) and offer sessions along with a grief workshop, resilience workshop and numerous other health and wellbeing subjects. 

Completely out of her comfort zone she has also been interviewed several times on the local radio stations about her experience with mental health and has participated in various YouTube videos.

Being proactive has assisted Anne-Marie with healing after her husband’s death along with continually learning more about mental health and seeking regular Counselling herself.  

When she is not advocating, Anne-Marie values time with her family and friends, and enjoys sport, various crafts (of which she has a PHD – Project Half Done), travelling and being involved in her local community.


Charmaine (she/her)

Charmaine (she/her)

Charmaine is a Mental Health Clinician with her own lived experience of suicide, crisis, and distress.

Charmaine lost her father to suicide when she had just given birth to her first child. She has since seen firsthand the intergenerational effects of suicide, becoming a carer for her mother who never recovered from the suicide. She has worked across multiple government and non-government roles in SA including peer specialist, carer consultancy, project, and policy roles.

For the last ten years, she has been a mental health social worker in government mental health services.

Charmaine is the mother of 3 amazing children and her passion for advocacy and improvement of mental health service provision, is to help ensure her children’s generation do not experience the same barriers to accessing services as she had for herself – her father and her mother. However, her own children’s experiences with the mental health sector have shown we still have a long way to go.

Charmaine is currently studying a Diploma of Life Coaching and is excited by the non-medical model approach. She hopes for a future where wellbeing not RISK ASSESSMENT is at the centre of support.


Katherine (she/her)

Katherine (she/her)

‘Together we CAN and WILL make the difference so badly needed’

Katherine is a 28-year-old female born in Adelaide. She is passionate about the mental health system, how we can better it for those who need it now and to make it better for those who will need support in the future.

Katherine took part in this project to share her own lived experience and share her tips and tricks – that she has learnt along her lengthy journey towards recovery – with all. Katherine wishes to also increase the efficacy of mental health services for the broader community, whose voice may not be as loud as hers.

Katherine likes to spend time with her family and close friends, and gardening.

[For the Learning from Lived Experience Suicide Prevention Project, Katherine would like to dedicate her presence to a wonderful friend she and others lost many years ago to suicide. Katherine states she will continue Lived Experience Representative roles and encouraging people to reach out in her honour]