By Jillian Gribben and Anita Jean
Suicide is a topic that is not always discussed openly and it is often clouded in stigma. According to The Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention, talking about suicide is the first key step to prevention. Only when the stigma is removed, can we begin to understand and learn about what we can do to prevent suicide.
According to recent Statistics Canada data, the average rate of suicide is 15 per 100,000 Canadians. It is the 9th overall leading cause of death for both men and women, and the 2nd leading cause of death globally for young people aged 15 to 29. According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people die by suicide every year – around one person every 40 seconds.
From a helper’s perspective, how do you recognize potential warning signs that someone might be suicidal? How do you approach someone you suspect maybe struggling with thoughts of suicide? Is there a best way to do so? What resources are available for you to mobilize once there is acknowledgement that there is a real risk of suicide?
LivingWorks is a training company based out of Calgary, Alberta that has been a leader in the field of suicide prevention for almost 30 years. Online resources well as information about upcoming training sessions are available on their website at livingworks.net. The approach of LivingWorks includes both awareness and skills development: awareness for individuals wanting to learn about suicide and what can be done to prevent it; skills development workshops on how to respond to people at immediate risk of suicide or “suicide first aid”. The initial suicide first aid workshops were modeled after CPR training for cardiac emergencies by a multidisciplinary team as part of an Alberta-wide suicide prevention initiative. Their approach includes “Train the Trainer” to develop community capacity for suicide prevention.
One of the LivingWorks programs is safeTALK, a training program where the aim is to train individuals to identify people who may be thinking about suicide. The idea is that individuals who are having thoughts of suicide are open to help from others. The intent of the program is by being alert and identifying opportunities to help and connecting people to suicide first aid resources in the community, you can play an active role in suicide prevention
Jillian Gribben, our safeTALK Trainer at the NorWest Community Health Centres, is inviting individuals over the age of 15 for a safeTALK training. Over the three hour safeTALK training, you will be better able to:
- Move beyond common tendencies to miss, dismiss or avoid suicide;
- Identify people who have thoughts of suicide;
- Apply the TALK steps (Tell, Ask, Listen and KeepSafe) to connect a person with suicide thoughts to suicide first aid, intervention caregivers.
The three hour training features:
- Powerful video clips that illustrate both non-alert and alert responses.
- Discussion and practice help stimulate learning.
- Learning the steps that contribute to saving lives.
A new partnership between the NorWest Community Health Centres (NWCHCs) and Left Behind By Suicide (http://leftbehindbysuicide.org) will offer regular SafeTALK suicide awareness training opportunities for community members. Left Behind By Suicide is an initiative led by Scott Chisholm to promote a meaningful dialogue about suicide and mobilize resources for suicide prevention.
The first safeTALK training will take place Wednesday May 24th from 9 am to 12 pm, at the NorWest Community Health Centres at 525 Simpson Street. Registration is required and limited to 25 participants. To register, find the link on our online calendar at www.norwestchc.org.
Call 211 to get connected with local supports and services. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone or online at http://search.211north.ca.
Jillian Gribben is a Community Health Worker – Mental Health and a safeTALK trainer. Anita Jean is Manager of Health and Social Programs. Both Jillian and Anita work at NorWest Community Health Centres.
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