safeTALK in schools – Pilot Study

The initial findings of the safeTALK in Schools pilot research study indicate that educating high school students about suicide and ways to seek help is not only appropriate, but vital to creating more resilient and suicide-safe communities.

Lifeline Research Foundation Executive Director Alan Woodward said the findings, presented by researchers from Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Lifeline Central Australia at the Suicide Prevention Australia Conference in July, could have significant implications on how we talk about suicide in Australia and beyond.

“There is a worldwide gap in research on the effectiveness of educational programs like safeTALK in Schools,” Mr Woodward said. “As such, the innovative work of Lifeline Central Australia has been pivotal in helping us forge valuable new ground in this area.

“So far, the pilot study with an Alice Springs high school has shown that the delivery of safeTALK in Schools is both safe and effective, helping students identify people at risk of suicide and linking them to relevant services.”

Mr Woodward said the pilot study also revealed limitations around current suicide prevention strategies.

“Young people surveyed in the research have reported the greatest barrier to seeking help was the stigma around suicide and ‘what would people think’, rather than the accessibility of services,” Mr Woodward said.

“This challenges many current approaches to suicide prevention for young people that focus on making services available and promoting their use.”

The safeTALK in Schools research project is being run in partnership with Lifeline Central Australia, Orygen, the University of Melbourne and Columbia University, with support from the Lifeline Research Foundation.

Project Team - safeTALK in Schools

Image right to left: Jo Robinson, Orygen; Karen Revel, Lifeline Central Australia; Eleanor Bailey, Orygen; Alan Woodward, Lifeline Research Foundation

- See more at: https://www.lifeline.org.au/About-Lifeline/Publications-Library/Lifeline-Newsletters/August-2015/safeTALK-in-schools-Pilot-Study#sthash.Tnj3nCss.dpuf

safeTALK in schools – Pilot Study

The initial findings of the safeTALK in Schools pilot research study indicate that educating high school students about suicide and ways to seek help is not only appropriate, but vital to creating more resilient and suicide-safe communities.

Lifeline Research Foundation Executive Director Alan Woodward said the findings, presented by researchers from Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Lifeline Central Australia at the Suicide Prevention Australia Conference in July, could have significant implications on how we talk about suicide in Australia and beyond.

“There is a worldwide gap in research on the effectiveness of educational programs like safeTALK in Schools,” Mr Woodward said. “As such, the innovative work of Lifeline Central Australia has been pivotal in helping us forge valuable new ground in this area.

“So far, the pilot study with an Alice Springs high school has shown that the delivery of safeTALK in Schools is both safe and effective, helping students identify people at risk of suicide and linking them to relevant services.”

Mr Woodward said the pilot study also revealed limitations around current suicide prevention strategies.

“Young people surveyed in the research have reported the greatest barrier to seeking help was the stigma around suicide and ‘what would people think’, rather than the accessibility of services,” Mr Woodward said.

“This challenges many current approaches to suicide prevention for young people that focus on making services available and promoting their use.”

The safeTALK in Schools research project is being run in partnership with Lifeline Central Australia, Orygen, the University of Melbourne and Columbia University, with support from the Lifeline Research Foundation.

Project Team - safeTALK in Schools

Image right to left: Jo Robinson, Orygen; Karen Revel, Lifeline Central Australia; Eleanor Bailey, Orygen; Alan Woodward, Lifeline Research Foundation

- See more at: https://www.lifeline.org.au/About-Lifeline/Publications-Library/Lifeline-Newsletters/August-2015/safeTALK-in-schools-Pilot-Study#sthash.Tnj3nCss.dpuf

Awareness

Awareness programs, like LivingWorks' suicideTALK, Le Va's FLO Talanoa, Lifeline's 'Start the conversation today' can serve a number of purposes. These presentations are for people interested in learning more about suicide and what can be done to help those at risk. They are designed to stimulate or build on concern about suicide. They often provide basic information about signs of suicide risk along with initial helping steps. Some address the needs of those bereaved by suicide. Sometimes, they discuss broader issues about building more supportive suicide-aware networks in communities, schools, and workplaces.

Awareness programs usually provide basic information but do not offer opportunities to develop suicide intervention skills. Some find that attending an awareness presentation is sufficient for their needs and interest, while others choose to become more involved and recognize that they will need more skills to do this effectively. 

Awareness presentations are shorter and aimed at the large number of persons who are sensitized to the problem of suicide. The goal is that members of the audience will identify ways to help, supporting suicide prevention and life-assisting programs in their communities while becoming more willing to refer persons at risk to helpers with intervention skills. Most awareness program audiences will recognize that there is more to learn before they feel willing, ready, and able to intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide.


  






Thanks to the Ministry of Health for their ongoing support in funding a number of FREE or subsidised seats for Maori / Pasifika whānau, hapu, iwi, aiga, fanau and Maori / Pasifika NGO.


Skills training

Crisis intervention skills training programs, like LivingWorks' ASIST, equip people to identify and respond to someone at immediate risk of suicide. Just as CPR skills make physical first aid possible, training in suicide intervention develops the skills to offer knowledgeable, competent suicide first aid. These programs also typically explore options for linking people with resources for ongoing help. They should also address caregiver attitudes towards suicide since these personal elements can affect the willingness and effectiveness of an intervention.

Skills training programs are longer and are often aimed at people in positions of trust. Depending on the community or organization, these might include chaplains, pastors, kaumatua, kuia, sports coaches, parents, foster caregivers, counselors, mental health professionals, social workers, teachers, and wellness managers—among many others. They are often the ones others turn to in times of difficulty, and in intervention skills programs, they are typically called caregivers or gatekeepers.

Intervention training programs are skills-based and provide a solid foundation for intervention and follow-up with someone at risk. Those participating in a suicide intervention skills workshop should leave feeling willing, ready, and able to intervene and prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Intervention skills training participants often feel more empowered to take a leadership role in suicide prevention and life-assisting programs in their communities.



Working together to prevent suicide

In the end, both awareness and intervention skills are essential. Every community needs people who support suicide prevention as well as caregivers who are prepared to intervene. LivingWorks, through Lifeline Aotearoa, offers a variety of programs in each category. Together, they can contribute to a robust suicide prevention framework for any community.





Training Opportunities & Workshops We can arrange safeTALK or ASIST workshops to suit your organisation.

For a list of confirmed workshops, dates and locations in the coming months see the registrations page.



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