Oregon Suicide Prevention Advocate Wins National Award

Meghan Caughey’s work shares her journey to find her voice throughout her lived experience

PORTLAND, Ore. – Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s Meghan Caughey was named a winner in the American Association of Suicidology’s 2018 Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest for her poignant essay on her struggles with mental illness and surviving suicide attempts.

Caughey, senior director of Cascadia’s Peer Wellness program, was awarded second place for “A Picture Album.” The work recounts Caughey’s journey to find her voice throughout her experience with schizophrenia and attempts of suicide.

In her notes on the essay, Caughey states, “My suicidality is not unusual. The statistics are grim for those of us who have this diagnosis of schizophrenia. Compared to the general population, we have more than an eight-fold increased risk of dying this way…I am committed to finding a way forward through the pain of this world and being a support to my peers who also struggle.”

“Meghan’s award is well deserved. She is a constant advocate of mental health awareness, and offers so much to our community is her leadership role in peer wellness,” said Derald Walker, Ph.D., President and CEO of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

“Suicide is perhaps the most stigmatized topic in the world. Stigma is born of ignorance, and ignorance fuels fear. No one ever solved a serious problem in this world who was too afraid to talk about it,” said QPR Institute founder Paul G. Quinnett, Ph.D., who established the contest.

As the oldest suicide prevention organization in the country, American Association of Suicidology believes that, due to stigma and taboo, the world has been denied important educational narratives. The Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest encourages the publication of these stories of survival, hope, recovery, and revival. Entries come from around the U.S and internationally.

A list of the 2018 and past award winners can be found here.

“As AAS enters our 51st year, I’m so proud of the Quinnett contest winners who showcase our organization’s belief that people can be suicidal and find hope again. The winning entries show off how AAS brings together people who have lived experience of being suicidal, clinicians, researchers crisis center personnel and loss survivors,” said Julie Cerel, President of AAS.

FOR THE MEDIA: We urge members of the media to share suicide prevention resources in all of their reports. Responsible reporting on suicide, and the inclusion of stories of hope and resilience can prevent more suicides. You can find more information on safe messaging around suicide here.

AAS promotes suicide as a research discipline, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at www.suicidology.org


Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is a private, not-for-profit whose mission is to provide whole health care for people living with mental health and addiction challenges. For information on Cascadia’s comprehensive range of innovative, integrated clinical and housing support programs, visit cascadiabhc.org.