This presentation will weave Bonnie’s personal experience of surviving complex trauma with her process of researching suicide and suffering using qualitative methods. While lived experience has been slowly gaining recognition as a form of expertise in the realm of mental health, the concept of qualified researchers with lived experience is not yet accepted in professional and academic life. Thus, the “either/or” attitudes of academia have complicated Bonnie’s experience of gaining qualifications and carving out a career while navigating and negotiating her own lived experience. In addition, she has experienced repercussions from both the lived experience sector and the non-lived experience professional sector when navigating through this process and negotiating how much to share and present, or not share. It is still too- frequently a “lose, lose” situation whatever we share or do not share of ourselves as survivors.
By the end of this presentation, attendees should have gained:
Bonnie Scarth is the Suicide Prevention/Postvention Coordinator in the Southern region of New Zealand. She received a Fulbright scholarship to study at Cornell University, where she focused on the subjective meaning-making of the lived experience of suicide and suffering. Her research has been published in international journals, and presented at conferences. What drives and informs her work is her lived experience of surviving complex trauma and PTSD and breaking intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse.
A Portrait of Bonnie Scarth, from a November 2017 interview.