Judy North said having people at the grassroots level when it comes to suicide prevention can help those contemplating suicide find help within their community.
“That’s why we need bus drivers, bartenders, hair dressers, soccer coaches, librarians (trained on the ground) because those are the people — the grassroots people — that are living day-to-day life with others who are thinking about suicide,” North said.
“They’re the ones we need to have be aware of what could be the warning signs, what could be the signs that somebody is thinking about suicide.”
This allows the trained individuals, North said, to understand how to have an open and honest conversation with someone who is having suicidal thoughts, and then connect those people with resources and help in the community.
The Canadian Mental Health Association Mid Island (CMHA MI), in partnership with the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Recreation and Parks, is hosting safeTALK suicide prevention training on Dec. 13.
SafeTALK is a half-day suicide prevention workshop, which helps participants, regardless of prior experience or training, gain knowledge about how to help a person who is having thoughts of suicide.
SafeTALK is one of two Community Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention training courses being delivered across B.C. by the Canadian Mental Health Association. In 2015, the provincial government allocated funding for course delivery and set a goal of training 20,000 people across B.C.
North is the regional co-ordinator for the Gatekeeper Training project. She travels around the Island teaching the half-day and two-day suicide prevention workshops. North, who is passionate about suicide prevention, said it’s a privilege to be able to provide the training.
“I am a suicide attempt survivor, which means life got really, really crappy and I tried to kill myself,” she said.
“As a person who has attempted suicide, it means I’m passionate — I have that personal experience, which drives the passion to help other people recognize when other people are struggling with suicide and to provide some kind of positive response.”
In the safeTALK training, participants will learn how to identify people who may have suicidal thoughts, ask them directly about the possibility of suicide and then connect them to life-saving community supports and resources.
The session will take place at Oceanside Place (830 Island Highway W., Parksville) on the second floor multi-purpose room. It will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
All workshop participants will receive a certificate.