Catholic Division staff complete mental health training around suicide

Herald file photo.

Staff in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division recently completed a suicide prevention training course that focuses on connecting those in need with support services.

Director of education Lorel Trumier updated the board of education on the training during the board’s regular meeting on Monday. She said it’s part of an increased focus on mental health capacity building and addressing what can be a difficult conversation around suicide.

“You can see that our aim here is to be proactive, to recognize the signs, to work toward prevention,” Trumier explained. “Unfortunately, we are put in those moments in times when we’re working with our students or staff or families where that becomes one of the topics that must be addressed.”

More than 40 staff members completed the LivingWorks Start Suicide Prevention Training on April 25.

Staff included student Support Services teachers, guidance counsellors, administrators, coordinators, superintendents and Trumier completed the LivingWorks Suicide Prevention Training.

Trumier said that the training is part of being able to support student, families and staff. The training was a refresher course on training that was done virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year marked the first time it was done in person.

Trumier said doing the training in person made a difference compared to the virtual version that was initially used.

“In person just helped facilitate so many more conversations to a deeper level and I appreciated the support of our staff to do that. Now we have many more staff and trained in suicide prevention,” she said.

“There were almost 50 of us in a in a room that just got a refresh on that training, and we were able to talk about different ways that we can support each other and connect our families or children to the support that they need,” she added.

Trumier said the training strengthened staff’s knowledge and response as they plan and prepare to assist others. After the training, staff collaborated on developing a Suicide Prevention and Connection to Services standard of work.

Trumier explained said it can also help when the subject comes up specifically with students.

“Everyone entered education with the idea of really an enhanced and an improving outcome for students. I don’t believe that there isn’t anyone that isn’t in that profession to do that, so, this is always very difficult to do, and I’m grateful that we’ve got some strategies here to help us through it.”

LivingWorks Start is a half-day professional development based on a four-step model for suicide prevention. The steps have the goal of teaching participants how to recognize when individuals are thinking about suicide and stress the importance of connecting the individual to support.

Trumier said that staff have told her how happy they are to have the training and how it helped in the discussion of suicide.

“The first step is always tuning in and hearing what the student might be saying, or the person might be saying and then being able to make a support plan for them and get them connected to the professionals that really can help them best,” Trumier said.