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Workshops aimed at suicide alertness

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Every 40 seconds, somebody dies from suicide. Isn't it time to talk openly about it?

In conjunction with Mental Health Week (May 7-13), the Canadian Mental Health Association—Fort Frances Branch and Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre will be hosting a workshop aimed at creating suicide alertness for everyone.

Called “SafeTALK,” the program teaches community members how to recognize those with thoughts of suicide and then how to connect them to suicide intervention resources, CMHA-FF educator and trainer Char Strain told the Times.

The workshop will be held twice that week—on Wednesday, May 9 from noon-3 p.m. at the Fort Frances Public Library and again Thursday, May 10 from 6-9 p.m. at Northern Community Development Services (NCDS).

The workshop is free but pre-registration is required by contacting Strain at 274-2347 ext. 207 (leave a message) or by e-mailing her at cstrain@cmhaff.ca

Strain explained the idea behind “SafeTALK" is to have layers of intervention in place "to make our community 'suicide-safer.'”

Through the program, community members are taught to identify people who may be thinking about suicide and help them find an individual who has applied suicide intervention skills training.

These individuals might work for a service provider, such as CMHA-FF.

“It's the equivalent of emergency first aid,” Strain noted.

She stressed “SafeTALK” is designed for absolutely anybody in the community, and the more people who take the program, the better.

“It's for a hockey coach, a teacher, a peer. People that work with youth, youths themselves, seniors,” said Strain, adding the only restriction is participants must be at least 15 years of age.

Strain said the workshop is “very basic," covering how to recognize the signs that someone may be thinking of suicide, as well as getting comfortable using words such as "suicide" and "kill yourself.”

She explained the “SafeTALK” program ultimately aims to reduce the stigma that suicide is a subject which we're not supposed to talk about.

“The more people are aware that it's a human condition, that anybody can be susceptible, the greater the likelihood that people will talk about it,” she reasoned.

“And it needs to be done layers,” Strain stressed.

“At the foundation, we need everyone to be able to talk openly and comfortably about suicide, and to know the difference between the myths about suicide and the truths,” she said.

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