Learning to listen

Joy Smith, Reporter

The last time Brenda saw her brother she had no idea that two days later he would be dead by his own hand. Several years later, that last visit with her brother played over and over again in Brenda’s mind as the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) instructor described some of the warning signs of individuals contemplating suicide. “If I had paid better attention to how my brother was acting and the things he talked about maybe he would still be here today. He just needed someone to listen to him.”

The 4 Wing Military Family Resource Centre runs the ASIST course four times per year and they have recently added two new courses Safetalk and Straight Talk.

ASIST is a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid. ASIST teaches participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety. Although ASIST is widely used by healthcare providers, participants don’t need any formal training to attend the workshop—anyone 18 or older can learn and use the ASIST model.

Safe Talk is a 3.5 hour workshop that helps alert one to warning signs indicating risk of suicide. The workshop emphasizes the importance of recognizing the signs, communicating with the person at risk and getting help or resources for the person at risk.

Straight Talk is a half day interactive workshop created for individuals working with youth aged 12 to 24. Straight Talk encompasses the developmental, cognitive, and emotional differences found within this age group in presenting strategies to strengthen the protective factors of youth at risk of suicide. Relevant intervention strategies are explored through videos and case studies.

All three courses are free to military members, spouses, dependents, veterans, and members of the Defence Team. A $50 deposit per course is required when participants register which will be refunded once the course is completed. The courses are also available to members of the community for a fee. Contact MFRCS at 780-594-6006 for prices and dates. Courses are limited to a maximum of 20 people and all COVID protocols are in place.

“ASIST benefits everyone,” says Sheri Scott, Family Education Coordinator. “Our community is so rural and it is so small, we are a giant family so why are we not taking the time to look out for one another? These courses will let you do that.”

Courses do expire so if you took the ASIST course more than three years ago it’s time to have a refresher.

“Let’s do the prevention before it gets to the interventions,” says Scott. It’s time to start listening.

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