UCD to host annual SafeTALK course on March 9th

This March 9th, UCD is hosting its annual SafeTALK training event in Ardmore House.Every year UCD facilitates this training, making it available to staff and students in the university. It consists of a PowerPoint presentation, a large group discussion, videos, and role plays.SafeTALK is a half-day alertness training programme set up by Living Works in Canada, to prepare anyone over the age of 15 to help individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts. Since its development in 2006, safeTALK has been used to in over 20 countries around the world.The taboo that exists around mental health in general, and suicide specifically, often impedes those most in need of help from seeking it. Those who do look for help tend to do so by sending small invitations or subtle messages to those close to them. Suicide is difficult to talk about, personally and culturally. SafeTALK aims to equip trainees with the wherewithal to notice and attend to these invitations with the steps: Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe.Third-year UCD Psychology student, Janice Lau, took part in this course in 2014, and told The University Observer that one aspect of the training she was struck by was the role play, in which she was paired with another trainee and took turns asking each other if they were thinking about suicide.Lau noted that it was harder to answer “Yes” than to ask the question in the first place. This, she said, impressed upon her the importance of asking in the first place, given how difficult it is to admit to having suicidal thoughts. While inquiring about somebody’s suicidal thoughts comes at very little cost to the asker, it may be of enormous benefit to the person in trouble, she added.Beyond encouraging trainees to act as supportive listeners, safeTALK does not equip individuals to directly help those with suicidal thoughts. In order to help with suicidal thoughts, there are two-day ASIST courses run in parallel with it.SafeTALK enables trainees to put the individual in contact with the relevant mental health services. In this way, it can be likened to a basic first aid course for the mind – trainees learn to notice signs of distress and to alert the relevant healthcare services. They act as a facilitator and intermediary.The event in UCD this March is open to staff and students, and is part of the University’s ongoing effort to increase awareness of mental health issues, and their treatment