Workshop trains participants for suicide safeTALK

Thursday , April 23, 2015 - 4:51 PM

NORTH OGDEN — “I am not going to take a chance on losing you.”

That sentence, which can be used to justify actions to keep a person safe, was among those learned by participants Wednesday in a safeTALK suicide prevention workshop Wednesday at the North Ogden Library.

The workshop was instructed by Taryn Aiken, a safeTALK trainer and chairwoman of the Utah Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and sponsored by the foundation.

Participants received training designed to help be more aware of the possibility of suicide by those close to them. Participants also learned to ask the right questions and say the right things to avoid danger until the suicidal person can feel better about life. They also were given the chance to role play scenarios, asking about suicidal thoughts when it may be warranted.

“The myth that people with suicidal thoughts just want to die is not true,” Aiken said. “They’re just not sure how to live right now. They’re just not sure they can do it right now.”

A videotaped co-trainer for the workshop said just about anyone who has died by suicide has told at least one person.

But the trainers said the struggling person’s words or subtle signs sometimes are missed, dismissed or avoided. The training was designed to help those concerned to not only notice the signs but to have the confidence to ask direct questions about whether or not a person has suicidal intentions.  

“Anytime we are alert to the possibility, we take it seriously, every single time,” Aiken said. 

The event was organized by Laura Warburton, a Huntsville mother who founded Hannah’s Hope in memory of her daughter who died by suicide in 2014.

Warburton said people with suicidal thoughts sometimes are afraid to bring up their struggles because they are afraid of being put in the hospital.

Aiken said sometimes a subtle statement is all a struggling person can offer in hopes that someone around them will recognize the signs.

“We need to get into each other’s business,” Aiken said.

The TALK in safeTALK stands for tell, ask, listen and keep safe.

While telling mostly refers to the person suffering, the other suggestions apply to those who care about their friend or associate.

She said listening is most important, even to one’s own self. Aiken said any person could be at risk of suicide depending on the circumstances of their life.

Saving one’s self also was discussed in the workshop. Participants were urged that if they ever had thoughts of suicide to communicate their intentions clearly to those closest around them, so they may be alerted to the need for help.

Aiken said her favorite phone app is MY3, available for Android and iPhone.

With MY3, a person defines his or her network and plans to stay safe ahead of time.

Aiken showed a list on her phone of instructions for when she or others might be in danger of suicide.

“Remember: there is hope and a life to look forward to, even in your darkest moments,” says the app’s website, www.my3app.org. “MY3 can help you get through your most difficult times.”

Also present at the workshop was Becky Austad, social worker, suicide prevention instructor and educator with the N.U. Hope Suicide Prevention Task Force at McKay-Dee Hospital.

Austad was there to lend support to anyone who was upset by materials presented. Some had already lost people close to them because of suicide.

But she also was there to support those who may have attended because of their own struggles with suicide.

Austad presented a local guide to resources and healing for families affected by suicide, a Weber County pamphlet designed to help survivors with the feelings and issues surrounding suicide as well as to provide a host of local contacts who can help with counseling and grief support.

The pamphlet is available at McKay-Dee Hospital.

Those who would like to attend or host a similar event may receive more information by visiting a safeTALK Utah Facebook page or sending an e-mail to utah@afsp.org.

For those who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The troubling issue of teen suicide is the focus of the Standard-Examiner’s 2015 initiative. Through the year, the newspaper will explore the complex problem through a variety of stories, videos, photographs and graphics. The aim of the Teen Suicide Initiative is to raise awareness in our communities and to provide information about resources available to youth, parents and citizens to prevent such deaths.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at JaNaeFrancisSE. Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

Things to remember: 

Most persons thinking of suicide want help to stay alive.

• People thinking of suicide find ways to invite help from others.

• Invitations are often missed, dismissed or avoided.

• The best way to find out if someone is thinking of suicide is to ask directly.

• Asking directly about suicide will not give someone the idea.

• Avoiding direct and open talk about suicide is not helpful and could be dangerous.

• Anyone could have thoughts of suicide.

• Everyone can learn how to help.

Source: safeTALK Resouce Book

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