2-day 'suicide first aid' workshop in Inuvik sees strong young adult turn out
Participants learn to recognize the signs of suicidal thoughts in others, and how to intervene
A two-day suicide prevention workshop in Inuvik has attracted more young adults than usual.
The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshop is put on in Inuvik twice a year. It bills itself as an "interactive workshop in suicide first aid" designed to help participants identify friends, family or coworkers who may be having suicidal thoughts, and then help them find the help and support they need.
Catherine Ruben works at the John Wayne Kiktorak Center, also known as Inuvik's warming shelter.
Ruben said she jumped at the opportunity to get better prepared since many people she works with battle addictions and live in a world defined by struggle.
"I thought I'd better take it because there might be a time where something happens like that, suicide amongst one of our residents, or even family and friends," said Ruben.
Ruben said the warming shelter gives the homeless a warm place to sleep, but she tries to go that extra step and be someone residents can confide in.
"Sit and talk with them, and just listen to them," she said.
Ruben said there's great need for programs like this because suicide is "all over, it's everywhere."
According to the N.W.T. Coroner's office, the Beaufort Delta region has the highest suicide rate in the territory.
Originally from Paulatuk, Ruben said the program is personal for her because she has friends and family who have attempted suicide.
"There is always somebody going through a hard time. My age and older, going through residential schooling … there was a lot of problems, and I think some people have thoughts like that."
Ruben said she feels like she will be better equipped after the workshop to identify and help someone who may be having suicidal thoughts.
"If it happens in my workplace, I know I'll have a little bit of training and more of an understanding of what can happen and how to prevent it."
20 participants, about half young adults
The suicide intervention program began coming to communities in the region in 2013, according to Andrea Brown, Mental Health and Addictions Manager for the Beaufort-Delta Health and Social Services Authority.
But this is the first time the territorial government is partnering with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to host the workshop.
"We assure that everyone gets that training, that there is always an opportunity," Brown said.
"It's really important because it can come up at any point. It can be a loved one, a friend."
Brown said there are about 20 participants from diverse backgrounds in this the most recent session which started Thursday.
She said young adult participation is up.
"It's great to see the youth. This is one of the first trainings in a while where it's half and half, both young adults [19-25] and adults"
Brown said those taking the course will come away with practical skills on how to have conversations around suicide, recognizing the signs of suicidal thoughts, and how to direct a person to get help.
"I think it's really important because a simple conversation can change someone's path in a positive way."
Brown said there will be more workshops this year in Beaufort Delta region communities.
For more information on how the program can be accessed in communities across the N.W.T. visit here.