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September 10, 2022 is World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day
Published Date

Trigger Warning: The content below contains information on mental illness and suicide, which some readers may find triggering.

Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in Canada. It's a major public health problem with long-term consequences for individuals, families, and communities.

On September 10, 2022, people from over 50 countries will come together to support World Suicide Prevention Day. The theme for this year is "Creating Hope Through Action." The goal of the day is to work together to create a preventative action movement, to recognize the impact of suicide, and, eventually, to prevent it. On World Suicide Prevention Day, everyone can help raise awareness about suicide, including those affected by a suicide attempt or loss, family and friends, charitable organizations, professionals, politicians, volunteers, and community members.

Suicide prevention work can be difficult at times, but even small steps can make a big difference.

Three-Year Suicide Prevention Strategy for Ontario Shores

At Ontario Shores, we are in the middle of a three-year suicide prevention strategy with the goal of developing a workforce that feels consistently valued, supported, and competent to provide high-quality, effective care to those at risk of suicide. Those we serve receive evidence-based care that is complementary to and aligned with quality standards in other areas of mental health care.

We employ elements of the Zero Suicide Framework for Safe Suicide Care, as well as other evidence-based models, such as those developed by Dr. Barbara Stanley. The core components of safer suicide care are operationalized as seven elements in Zero Suicide.

Lead system-wide culture change committed to reducing suicides.
Train a competent, confident, and caring workforce.
Identify individuals with suicide risk via comprehensive screening and assessment.
Engage all individuals at-risk of suicide using a suicide care management plan. 
Treat suicidal thoughts and behaviors directly using evidence-based treatments.
Transition individuals through care with warm hand-offs and supportive contacts.
Improve policies and procedures through continuous quality improvement

The first half of Ontario Shore's three-year suicide prevention strategy have been marked by the identification of an evidence-based suicide risk assessment model, the development of a training strategy and plan for organization-wide support, the completion of a comprehensive literature review of best practices and innovative solutions for brief interventions and treatment and the implementation of brief interventions to support those at risk for suicide.

The Need: New Suicide Risk Assessment Model and Training

In the future, we intend to continue using the suicide risk assessment model and training, conduct a thorough evaluation of the changes made, and devise a strategy for implementing suicide-prevention-focused treatment pathways and practices in outpatient and inpatient settings where gaps exist.

The training gap will be closed through training in Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR), which teaches the fundamental skills required to provide suicide care. Clinicians can help patients at high suicide risk remain in or transition to their own community setting while they get healthier by implementing the suicide risk identification, assessment, and management skills learned in AMSR training. Patients at high risk of suicide may experience increased vulnerability after being discharged from the hospital, but receiving the best suicide care possible during their inpatient stay can help mitigate this risk. Participants will leave with the tools they need to reduce suicide risk and intervene with people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviours. These organization-wide training sessions cover topics such as how to approach your work, understanding suicide, gathering information, formulating risk, planning, and responding.

General Education and Prevention

People who have been affected by suicide have a lot to teach us. Many survivors of suicidal thoughts or behaviours describe intense pain that is accompanied by hopelessness and despair. They also express a desire for the pain to end rather than death. That pain is frequently brought on by complicated and unique circumstances, such as a treatable mental illness, a stressful life event, and/or difficulties with coping skills. Interventions are available to address each of these concerns, and people must be made aware that things can change.

People are often afraid to intervene, but reaching out to someone—whether a close relative, a friend, or even a stranger—can change their lives. Due to the difficulty of discussing suicide, listening with an open mind can help reduce feelings of isolation and remind the person that others care about them. Compassion and empathy can aid in the healing process. A genuine conversation has the power to make a difference. If you are concerned about someone, start by inquiring about their general well-being. It can be difficult to start a conversation; try something like: "I understand you've been through a lot recently. I'd like you to know that I'm concerned about you." If the response is alarming, ask, "Are you feeling safe?" "Do you ever consider suicide?" It is a myth that asking or discussing suicide will make someone want to engage in a suicidal behaviour.

Suicide prevention is the responsibility of everyone.

If you need support, please contact:

#WSPD2022 #CreatingHopeThroughAction

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