Students propose suicide prevention course

By Trevor Bacque

A campus improvement fund initiative at the University of Calgary is introducing weekend suicide prevention training for Nursing and Social Work students. The decision was a quick one, only taking a month to make its way through the Student Academic Assembly.

“That’s what the fund is built to do, it’s meant to be responsive to needs,” said Students’ Union vice-president academic Meg Martin.

According to Martin, students from the two faculties will be able to attend the weekend workshop for free, and said quality money is assuming the costs for participation. An initial $25 deposit may be collected to ensure people will show up to the first workshop, which will happen before the end of the winter semester.

Nursing student Amanda Loates said the idea came to her during her final nursing practicum as she was working in community and mental health. Her advisor organized a visit to the Suicide Prevention Centre and it was there Loates thought this could be something for students to utilize.

“I thought this would be such a cool idea and I want to be able to take it,” said Loates in regards to the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop.

With psychology and nursing degrees from the U of C, 31-year-old Loates thinks suicide intervention should have more attention paid to it.

“It could happen to anybody, so why not have it on campus so that all kinds of people can get in touch with it and be able to deal with it.”

Rianne Wolf, social work faculty representative, calls the time frame “limited” for in-class learning regarding suicide. Currently for nursing students, the university briefly touches on the subject of suicide during second year nursing mental health theory.

Loates, a former distress centre worker, thinks a change is in order with how professionals treat death.

“Dealing with death in general, in health care, is something that we don’t do very well.”

The workshop will be hosted by the Centre for Suicide Prevention whose ASIST program is attended by thousands of people across Canada.

The course includes 14 hours of instruction over two days featuring award-winning audio-visuals, a 20-page workbook and small group activities. Upon completion of the workshop students will receive a certificate and validation.

The workshop meets the accreditation standards of the Canadian Accreditation Council of Human Services.

On average, 3,756 Canadians commit suicide each year according to the Centre for Suicide Prevention.

The quality money initiative for the suicide intervention workshop was estimated to cost $21,952.70 according to the SAA meeting on February 8.

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