Peer support can make a difference! Research has demonstrated a number of ways peer support, in addition to regular treatment and therapy, can uniquely support people in recovery:

Empathy. Peer support provides a personal level of knowledge by sharing similar life experiences. These common personal experiences can foster meaningful connections and a deeper sense of understanding and empathy between peers who may otherwise feel misunderstood.

Connecting/Reducing isolation. Living with suicidal thoughts and feelings can be very isolating. Many people may not be able to speak with friends or family – and some people may be afraid of the subject altogether. Similarly, after a suicide attempt, survivors may feel reluctant to share what happened with friends and family for fear of misunderstanding and judgement. This can often leave survivors feeling alone and isolated. Peer support programs support inclusiveness by providing a safe and more comfortable platform to open up and connect with others.

Hope. A peer who has lived experience with suicide and/or recovered from a suicide attempt can provide useful insight on how to healthily manages suicidal thoughts and what to expect through the recovery process. In many ways these supporters can promote hope in peers that getting through struggles with suicide is possible and that life gets better as well.

Improve overall mental and physical health. Those who participate in peer support often influence other positive, self-care and lifestyle behaviors like regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress management.

To learn more about peer support and the evidence in support of peer support in the recovery process visit: http://www.psresources.info/the-evidence (external link).