When a loved one, friend or teenager commits suicide, it drastically impacts the community. Several questions usually follow immediately afterward. Why weren’t the signs more noticeable? What could have been done to make a difference? Why were the signs missed?
In Craig County, there is a coalition of people who not only care but are striving to do something about these tragedies continuously.
The Craig County Prevention Planning Team (CPPT) is hosting a FREE safeTALK training to help people to become more aware of possible suicide signs. Since its development in 2006, safeTALK has been used in over 20 countries around the world.
“This seminar is alertness training that prepares anyone fifteen or older, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper,” said J. D. Carlin, the CPPT Secretary. Carlin is also a Prevention and Wellness Specialist with Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare.
Sadly, the recent statistics on Craig County students have shown that suicidal thoughts and attempts are happening at levels higher than the national average.
Here are some of the stats:
•One in three local youth self-reported having been depressed in the past year.
•One in five reported thinking about suicide in the past year.
•One out of every eight actually attempted suicide in the past year.
“We ask you to think about eight teenagers you know, eight teens that spend time at your house or you know from Food Country or Subway, eight teens that attend the same church as you,” Carlin shared. “Statistically speaking, one of those eight teens you are thinking about right now has attempted to end their life.”
CPPT has been providing as much information and assistance as possible. Moreover, now, they are on the road to making pathways of assistance for all citizens in Craig by providing a safeTALK training seminar.
“This training is massively important to Craig County because the data is clear,” Carlin said. “Youth self-reported rates of depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts are all at alarming rates in Craig County.” The simple, but effective TALK steps to be taught include: Tell, Ask, Listen and Keep Safe.
Participants will learn how to:
• Notice and respond to situations that may involve suicidal thoughts
• Develop the awareness to identify invitations to help a suicidal individual
• Apply the safeTALK method to having a beneficial conversation with a suicidal individual
• Discover community resources to connect a suicidal individual to get them the help and support they need
CPPT stresses that all we must do everything we can to be prepared to help someone if a moment of crisis arises. Through words and actions, they invite ‘help to stay alive,’ and if you become a safeTALK-trained helper, you can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources.
Carlin shared a factual statement, “Most people with thoughts of suicide do not truly want to die. Many times, they are struggling with the pain in their lives. We want to be prepared to help people get through that pain and connect them to the resources they need to be happy and safe.”
The CPPT team asks for the community to share the safeTALK date with as many people as possible. “People we love and care about are suffering, and they need our help! This training gives a person the skills they need to make a difference at a possible pivotal moment in one’s life.”
The seminar is 100 percent free and will be held on Thursday, June 21, from 3 to 6 p.m., at St. John’s Catholic Church located at 99 2nd Street off of route 615 (located beside of Craig Botetourt Electric). There will be two safeTALK trainers present.
Register by contacting JD Carlin at 540-982-1427 Ext. 145 or by sending an e-mail to [email protected] “We must have at least 12 people register to hold this training,” Carlin said. For more safeTALK information, visit https://www.livingworks.net/programs/safetalk/.
Craig County EMS providers experience several “attempted suicide” calls every year according to Jim Cady, the Emergency Services Coordinator and Emergency Management Coordinator. “Thankfully most are not successful and are an unspoken request for help and attention. In many cases, the same person tries several times,” he said.
Cady added that though all attempts concern him, the ones of most concern are the first timers that take drastic measures and are successful before anyone recognizes the problem. “That is why we all need to train to recognize the signs and signals as this knowledge can save the life of our family members and/or friends,” he added.