Exploring Suicide with Natalia Je and Sarah Roffey


Paraphrasing the words of philosopher David Webb, we are not very skilled at talking about suicide as a society. In some ways this is can be explained, because suicide summons two of our greatest fears – the fear of death and the fear of madness. As a result, suicide is often veiled in toxic silence; it's a taboo that feeds the ignorance and prejudices that can make talking about our suicidal feelings risky and difficult.

In this workshop, we will open a space for dialogue and reflection on suicidal urges and acts that steps out beyond the dominant bio-medical understandings, that assuredly connect them to insanity or 'mental health issues' and the preoccupation with suicide prevention promulgated by the national campaigns. In the first part, we will explore in a sensitive and careful way the effects of the suicides of others on us. In the second part, we will approach the question of our own suicidal thoughts and fantasies: where do they come from? What do we do with them?

Natalia Je has Master's Degrees in Social work and Psychology, as well as training in alternative medicine and bodywork. She is one of the founders and directors of OFF THE WALL INC. and facilitates the monthly CriticalPerspectives on Madness Reading Group in Sydney. In her childhood years Natalia received rigorous training in ballet dance and rhythmic gymnastics which informs her body practices (yoga and pilates) and body awareness to this day. Natalia's advocacy and activism centre around fostering non-medical, emancipatory and Mad-positive practices and discourses in and outside the mental health sector. Research-wise, she is interested in sexuality and madness and sanism in mainstream social work practices. She draws also from her own experiences of emotional distress and involvement with psychiatric services.



Sarah Roffey has qualifications in Gender and Cultural Studies and Social work. She is one of the founders of OFF THE WALL INC and also one of the founders and facilitators of Sydney’s Critical Perspectives on Madness Reading Group. She has experience facilitating therapeutic and educational groups and workshops, including on sex and madness. She is informed in her work by her own experiences of distress and other states of mind and is interested in challenging dominant approaches to what is often termed 'mental illness'. Sarah is interested in the intersections between the body, writing, literature, erotica, sexuality, madness and the exploration of diverse experiences.