City teams up with mental health program for suicide prevention
EDMONTON -- Every day, 11 Edmontonians attempt, or die by suicide, advocates say. Now the city is trying to lower the numbers by making online courses available for free.
“Having a conversation about suicide is definitely very difficult for everyone," said Donna Cao, who has participated in the courses.
She’s one of hundreds of Edmontonians taking advantage of the courses.
“It’s definitely becoming a lot more relevant to my personal life to think about suicide and the way it impacts people around me.”
The University of Alberta student recently completed the LivingWorks Start program, a course on recognizing the signs of suicidal thoughts and how you can help. The city has made 2,000 free spots available.
“Suicide is everyone’s business and suicide is preventable,” said Ione Challborn of Canadian Mental Health Services Edmonton.
Advocates have long worked to break down barriers around suicide, like the perception of weakness associated with asking for help.
“People think of that as a bad thing, but I think of it as a good thing, because people are reaching out for help and getting help,” Challborn said.
“It’s a moment of great strength in a moment of high vulnerability.”
"As much as those numbers, seeing them tick up like this, is alarming in one sense, it's also a sign that there are those compassionate connections being made and that's really important," said Owen Stockden of LivingWorks Start.
The program teaches people to be more direct when talking about suicide, and emphasizes that you don't have to be a mental health expert to make a difference.
"Just identifying somebody’s distress, connecting with them, and then helping them connect to that deeper level of help - so anyone can do that."
“It was really engaging,” said Cao. “It didn’t feel like just the normal everyday module I had to go through."
In the middle of a pandemic, LivingWorks Start says these skills are more important than ever.
"Knowing that these challenges are out there, that there are measures that we can all take to help those around us stay safe and alive," said Stockden.
With files from CTV news Edmonton's Carlyle Fiset