SLOP is the acronym for a meeting fully named, “Suicide as a Language Of Pain.” It was an idea that had been formulating for a long time until one of our peers, a suicide survivor, really pushed the idea of having a peer run group for those that have may have tried suicide and for those who had survived. The meetings are run through a marriage of IPS and 12 step recovery by starting with readings to explain the group from a participant perspective followed by discussion that adheres to the 3 principles and 4 tasks of IPS. People can come in and share about their trauma or their past experience, or there may be no mention of suicide or trauma at all!
Chrystal, the lead peer support for Clackamas Mental Health Center (CMHC), has been running these groups online during COVID-19. She says, “Nobody is required to talk about suicide. Meetings have begun with the topic, ‘What’s your favorite horror story?’ It depends on what is brought to the table that day.” For peers, talking about wanting to kill ourselves can be very dangerous. The clinical approach can take away our rights to act as a free agent. The meeting space is a place for peers to build trusting relationships, so they can talk about whatever they need and not be dehumanized for it.
Even though it was difficult building the meeting from scratch twice, once in December 2019 and then a second time during the Spring of 2020, Chrystal described a deep satisfaction with providing this safe space and getting to meet peers where they are.