Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Post Secret - Suicide Prevention On A Post Card

Have you heard of PostSecret? No?

Here's how I would describe it...it is the world's confessional, it is a place to purge your darkest fears, it's a chance to share without judgement, it's an art project, it's therapy, it's fun, it's heartbreaking, it's freeing, and once you've visited you go back again and again.

In a 2007 interview with the Torontoist, Frank Warren, the creator of PostSecret, characterizes the phenomenon this way, "I think a secret is something that, when you’re keeping it, you think nobody would understand. But as soon as you share it, it doesn’t just connect you to your humanity, it connects you to the larger community in a way that’s very meaningful, I think."

Six years ago Frank Warren gave out 3,000 postcards and asked people to write a secret on it and mail it back to him. He asked two things - the secret must be true and the writer has to have never shared it before. He received about 300 cards back and used them in an art exhibition.

Then something miraculous began to happen. He'd find postcards in his mailbox, beautiful postcards that strangers decorated and wrote their deepest, darkest secrets on. The project took on a life of its own. Frank decided to create PostSecret, a blog where every Sunday he posts a selected number of the anonymous cards to share with the world.

How does this relate to suicide prevention?

One of the leading causes of suicide is a feeling of isolation. PostSecret allows people to free themselves, to lighten their burden, and see that they are not alone. By reading and sharing they see that everyone feels as they do or they are not so weird or they don't have it as bad as they thought.

Also, PostSecret has grown into a community of readers that is over one million strong and one million people make for a powerful voice. Last year when the suicide prevention hotline 1-800-SUICIDE was in danger of closing down, Frank posted a call to action on his blog. PostSecret readers sent over $30,000 in donations directly to the hotline to keep it going.

Frank believes strongly in what he is doing. He respects the people who send in their secrets and they trust him. So far he's published 4 books filled with the postcard collections and he tours college campuses giving presentations about the tranformative power of sharing with others.

Frank says, "Free your secrets and become who you are." Sounds profoundly simple but aren't most truths that way?

5 comments:

mary k said...

Great post! I heard a radio interview with Frank the other day. He is such a generous, sincere man, and his project is a very interesting and important one.

Linda Lou said...

Wow! What an amazing site. Now I wonder what other cool things are out there that I have no idea about. What else am I missing?

Great blog, Lisa!

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mary,

Thanks. I have a friend who knows Frank and says the same thing about him..that he is sincere and genuine in his love for the secrets he posts and the strangers who share them.

Hugs,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Linda,

Sometimes I feel the same way. The Internet is like an unexplored continent.

Best Wishes,
Lisa

Fin said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for sharing this information. I really love this idea.