This past weekend, I attended a SafeTALK workshop put together by the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The half-day workshop is designed to help train folks to be more suicide aware, and to be “helpers” for those in need.
The idea behind TALK is:
- Keep safe.
Obviously, if you are having thoughts of suicide, the first thing any of us want you to do is tell someone. Preferably someone who can help you. Of course, in real life, someone struggling like that is unlikely to just walk up and say “Hi, I’m thinking about suicide, can you help me?” so much of the rest of the workshop focused on the other three parts of the scenario. What to listen and watch for, how to ask directly, the importance of being there to listen, and then figuring out how to keep them safe.
This short workshop isn’t designed to train anyone in how to talk someone out of it, or counsel them, just to be more aware of what is happening with the people around you, whether it be in your family, at work or school, or even just friends you are spending time with. There are a number of scenes put together that are played back, discussed and then replayed to see what may have gone differently, if the other person had not missed the signs, dismissed them as not serious, or tried to avoid them. (It happens, it can be scary to consider the topic of suicide, so many people will run away at the first sign that it might be an issue. It’s not great, but it is a naturally reaction when we are confronted with something we don’t want to think about) Then, it focuses on how to get comfortable with the topic, how to be a helper, how to listen to them, where to get them help, even if it’s just calling the national hotline with them, etc.
If you have followed along with anything I’ve written here, or articles I’ve shared on the News and Reviews site, you probably already know much of this stuff, and I certainly can’t say that I learned anything shockingly new, but I found it rather helpful to sit with others and focus on this topic, and the scenarios for a few hours. It never hurts to be reminded that asking is the best thing to do if you are worried about someone, that risking discomfort beats losing someone you care about, and that, of course, you also have to keep yourself safe as well, and not put yourself at risk in the midst of trying to help someone else.
It also doesn’t hurt to be reminded that we should never swear to keeping secrets. Keeping someone safe might just be the opposite of keeping their confidences, so we can’t promise that we’ll do that.
One thing I did learn, that I didn’t not actually know before, is that if you hit up Siri on your iPhone and mention the word suicide, your phone will suggest this to you, which is kind of awesome.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
So, if you have an opportunity to attend one of these free workshops, I’d recommend it. It will help more people be comfortable talking about, and aware of suicide prevention, and that’s never a bad thing.
I do have to warn you though, that some of the scenes and scenarios can be pretty intense. In addition to the trainers for this workshop, we also had a third person there to act as a community resource, someone to talk to if you’re not OK or get overwhelmed. That is quite reassuring.
Plus, I now have a sticker (in the photo above) to add to my iPad cover.