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Let’s Talk About Suicide

Trigger warning: Suicide is an exceptionally difficult concept for many people. This article is to share a newly adapted resource from BCcampus to help faculty and staff gain important skills and experience to use should they engage with a student who is at risk of suicide.

An important update about a BCcampus Mental Health and Wellness project to offer guidance to faculty and staff who might encounter critical situations while working with students. 

Post by the BCcampus editorial team

One of the hardest questions you may ever find yourself asking is, “Are you thinking about suicide?” A newly adapted resource, Let’s Talk About Suicide: Raising Awareness and Supporting Students, is now available to help faculty and staff discover the tools — and confidence — to ask a student if they are considering suicide as well as guidelines to listen without judgment and share appropriate resources with students.

This BCcampus resource was adapted from the original work of Dawn Schell, manager of Mental Health Outreach & Training in the Student Wellness Centre at the University of Victoria. “Any time we are willing to enter into a conversation about suicide, we are helping to break down the stigma,” shared Dawn, “reminding students they do not have to struggle alone, and there is help available. This resource will equip you to better understand how to have these meaningful conversations.”

The adaptation was funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, with guidance from an advisory group of students, staff, and faculty from post-secondary institutions throughout the province. 

Expectations

This is a guide for facilitators who would like to lead a discussion and deliver training to faculty and staff. “This isn’t about latching on to the student’s journey and inserting yourself into their crisis,” explained Mary Burgess, executive director at BCcampus. “It’s about making a moment — a few minutes or longer — where you can feel grounded and prepared to engage them on the topic of suicide and then refer them to support.” 

The Power of Language

In Let’s Talk About Suicide: Raising Awareness and Supporting Students, there’s a section about the language to use around suicide, geared to help reduce the stigma and sensationalism. For example, instead of saying “committed suicide,” you might want to say “died by suicide” or “killed themselves.” Changing how we discuss the topic of suicide can help normalize it, helping people feel more comfortable about discussing their suicidal feelings without fear of judgment. Creating a space where people are able to share their concerns is a vital part of developing the support they need.

Open Resources

Like all open textbook resources at BCcampus, the Let’s Talk About Suicide resource is openly available through a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. This means you can reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the content without requesting permission; all you need to do is provide attribution and include the copyright holder of the original author.

Notable Quote(s)

“Reducing the stigma and silence around suicide will help people with suicidal thoughts feel like they’re able to discuss them without judgment. This training will help faculty and staff gain confidence and skills in talking about suicide so that students can be referred to appropriate care.”

– Michelle Glubke, project manager, BCcampus

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