I recently chose to attend the safeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone training for the same reason I decide to take First Aid and CPR training every year: I want to know what to do if someone needs my help. In other words, if ever I encounter someone who is thinking or talking about harming themselves, I want to make sure I can respond appropriately and feel confident in doing so. The safeTALK training helped me in many of these aspects, and incorporated a variety of helpful resources including a take-home manual, video modules, wallet cards, as well as opportunities to engage in role play.
I’ve included my thoughts and notes about how the training went here!
safeTALK is the title of the training, but it is also an acronym for the key concepts of the course, as illustrated below:
safe: suicide alertness for everyone
Suicide—it can seem like a scary word, but saying it over and over again in the workshop made many of us feel more comfortable in talking about it. In fact the reason why we have suicide alertness training is so that there is increased capacity among our community to connect people with suicidal thoughts to professional care-givers. As was pointed out in our session, thoughts of suicide are human and prevalent, but the act itself can be prevented.
TALK: Tell, Ask, Listen, KeepSafe
The training taught participants how to identify possible “invitations” for help from someone who is thinking about suicide; how to formulate questions to ask the person and listen actively; and how to connect them to the right resources (ASSIST).
ASSIST is an acronym for “Applied Suicide Intervention Training”. There are ASSIST trained people are all across our campus, including folks such as Student Life staff and Residence Managers.
My role, as someone who is now trained as a safeTALK alert helper, is to listen and provide support to individuals who are thinking about suicide, and act as a link to an ASSIST contact – someone who can keep them safe. The training also emphasizes the importance of keeping my own self-care in mind—I have to keep myself safe as well.
If the bus in the video looks familiar, it is a TTC bus. TTC drivers are safeTALK trained!
You can identify people as safeTALK trained because of this sticker.
You can become safeTALK trained too! It is a free, three hour-long training, and you will receive a certificate at the end.
The next session of safeTALK training on campus will take place in February, and you can register now!
I encourage you to take a step to add this important skill set to your toolbox—let’s contribute to a healthier campus, and a suicide-safer space.
If you, or someone you know, are having thoughts of suicide, there are resources on campus and in the community.
For emergencies, call 9-11 or Campus Police at 416-978-2222. If you are experiencing mental health distress and need to talk to someone now, call the Good 2 Talk Student Helpline at 1-866-925-545.
If you live in residence, contact your don, residence life staff and/or your dean of students.
For additional mental health resources on campus and in the community, visit https://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/feeling-distressed