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.”