Reading to Stay Alive: a virtual SAPC Creative Inquiry Workshop

Weds 7th September 2022, 09:00-10:00 London BST

Facilitator: Chris Dowrick

  • The aim of this workshop is to explore how literary reading may ameliorate our personal and vicarious experiences of suicide. It will consider how literature enables us to acknowledge the deeply inconsolable, to ‘think’ reality when ordinary human thought falls short, to allow for the possibility of imagining the ‘shabby, confused, agonised crisis which is the common reality of suicide’ and to develop empathy towards individuals who seek it.
  • The intended outcome is to expand participants’ understanding of the recursive relationship between literature and mental health, and in particular to see the potential value of literary reading as a means of broadening our approach to suicide prevention.

The recording of this workshop can be found here or click on the image below

Trigger Warning: this session will talk about people who live with suicidal thoughts, have attempted suicide, and those who have sadly died by suicide. We recognise that this would naturally have an impact on people for a wide range of personal reasons, and encourage you to ask questions, seek reflection, or step back from this  session if it feels too challenging.

If you are affected by suicide or self- harm, through your work, your personal life, there are some sources of support:

For anyone (clinical or not clinical):

- Suicide postvention work and resource: - Postvention information: - Suicide Prevention Centre:

Samaritans: call 116 123, or visit:

For UK doctors: – or text SHOUT to 85258

For Australian colleagues:


Before you watch this workshop, here are some suggestions for things you might want to look at before you join the conversations, in order of time commitment:

  1. None: just turn up and join in.
  2. Minimal: download text of Anna Karenina’s final minutes and watch this YouTube clip of Kiera Knightley:
  3. A bit more: read the detailed account of Anna’s last day in Book 7, chapters 27-31.
  4. Even more: compare and contrast Anna’s life and death with Levin’s existential struggles, by reading the final chapters of Book 8, starting at chapter 8.
  5. A lot: of course, you can (re-)read Tolstoy’s epic novel in its entirety…..