Sui­cide in­ter­ven­tion skills course aims to help

Two-day course be­ing of­fered Nov. 30 and Dec. 1


Elisha Stairs can’t for­get the day some­one came into her of­fice and an­nounced they planned to at­tempt sui­cide im­me­di­ately af­ter that meet­ing.

Stairs kept her cool and used her train­ing to even­tu­ally help the young per­son to de­velop a safety plan for the rest of the day. She was just a phone call away for the rest of the day and at home in the evening.

The sup­port worker/pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor at the Tri-County Women’s Cen­tre cred­its the train­ing she re­ceived in the Ap­plied Sui­cide In­ter­ven­tion Skills Train­ing ( ASIST), of­fered as part of her Men­tal Health Re­cov­ery and Pro­mo­tion course at Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege Bur­ridge Cam­pus, with al­low­ing her to re­solve this life-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion safely.

In fact, Stairs says she uses the skills and tech­niques she ac­quired by tak­ing the ASIST work­shop more than any oth­ers when she worked at SHYFT (Sup­port­ive Hous­ing Youth Fo­cus Team), and nearly as of­ten at the Women’s Cen­tre.

An ASIST work­shop is be­ing of­fered at Yarmouth Re­gional Hos­pi­tal Nov. 30 - Dec. 1. It is a two-day in­ter­ac­tive work­shop in sui­cide first aid. ASIST teaches par­tic­i­pants to rec­og­nize when some­one may be at risk of sui­cide and works with them to cre­ate a plan that will sup­port their im­me­di­ate safety.

It is be­ing or­ga­nized by the Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity’s (NSHA) Men­tal Health and Ad- Elisha Stairs is the sup­port worker/pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor at the Tri-County Women’s Cen­tre. dic­tions pro­gram in part­ner­ship with the Yarmouth Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion and the Tri-County Women’s Cen­tre.

“The foun­da­tion is so grate­ful that the gen­eros­ity of the late busi­ness­man Richard Shapiro has al­lowed us to present this work­shop at a re­duced cost,” says Foun­da­tion board chair­man Don Cook.

“Deal­ing with po­ten­tial risk of sui­cide is a very com­plex prob­lem and this train­ing is just one com­po­nent — an im­por­tant com­po­nent, but not the only one,” adds Larry Phillips, pre­ven­tion & health pro­mo­tion co-or­di­na­tor, Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tions. Oth­ers agree. “The goal is to have more folks in our com­mu­nity who are pre­pared to sup­port those who have thoughts of sui­cide and their fam­i­lies,” says Lisanne Turner, sex­u­al­ized vi­o­lence ser­vice co­or­di­na­tor at the Tri- County Women’s Cen­tre.

Phillips says the pro­gram is ben­e­fi­cial for com­mu­nity groups, teach­ers, po­lice, or­ga­ni­za­tions that work with youth, se­niors, any­one who might be at risk of men­tal ill­ness and there­fore in dan­ger of con­sid­er­ing sui­cide.

“A lot of peo­ple rally around the youth com­po­nent — we al­ways want to pro­tect our youth,” he says. “But it’s not just youth; it can be any­body. It’s re­ally im­por­tant to have peo­ple out there who are trained to de­tect po­ten­tial risk of sui­cide, and now the com­mu­nity will have more peo­ple who are trained in how to iden­tify and re­fer for ap­pro­pri­ate ser­vices.”

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