Our society has so many taboos around suicide that it is difficult to speak directly and openly about suicide. CameronHelps (CH) is working to open the doors on this difficult subject. Nov. 16, it funded SafeTALK training for its volunteers, board members and staff. SafeTALK teaches ordinary people to talk about suicide, especially when they get an indication someone is thinking about suicide. Its key objective is to teach ordinary people to connect with community resources to keep suicidal people safe.
Participants learned suicidal people are afraid of: being shunned; hurt even more; being told there is something wrong with them; being a burden on loved ones (they think, “I should be able to handle this myself”). It is not helpful when we are judgemental, angry, negative, panicked, advice-giving and impatient with them.
When you know someone is suicidal, you can’t leave them alone. They are very vulnerable and may start to panic because they shared their intentions with you. You need to also keep yourself safe. Community agencies are able and available to help. SafeTALK teaches you how to listen and connect a suicidal person with the help they need.
Feedback from participants in the SafeTALK training follows:
“Our SafeTALK training reinforced a powerful message for me — we all have a role to play in helping others,” said Jenn Shaver CH Director, Education. “We want everyone to feel confident and to be competent when faced with a crisis situation regarding suicide. This training gives people from all walks of life the tools needed to help.”
“Having gone through the training once already, my reaction was the same. It is a ‘must’ for anyone. Hard for me not to think that, if I would have had this training prior to my son’s death that he might be alive today,” said David Harris, CH Founder and CEO.
“The SafeTALK suicide alertness training for CameronHelps was well worth the time,” said CH Board Chair Randy Flewelling. “SafeTALK provides tools to help recognize and get help for someone who is suicidal. A goal of CameronHelps is to facilitate delivery of this training, continuing our mission of saving one life at a time.”
“I had a similar reaction and would add that the training provided me with the tools and resources to help connect an individual with the professional help they need,” said CH Director of Finance Keith Madley.
“The SafeTALK training was empowering. It prepared me for when I encounter a person considering suicide and what would otherwise be an awkward situation or a missed opportunity to help,” said Hugh Williams, CH Director and Secretary.
“I came because I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right,” said Child and Youth Worker Heather Brown. She works for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School where there are 1,700 students coming from diverse multicultural backgrounds. “I’m dealing with this all the time in my role. Lots of students have thoughts of suicide. In Grades 9 and 10 it is because of the impact of social media. In Grade 11 it is due to family dynamics and dating relationships. In Grade 12, it is because of the stress of getting into university or college, and students having to face reality as an adult.”