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Posted: May 24, 2016

Suicide prevention training upcoming

Suicide is a topic not many feel comfortable talking about.

Yet, each year over 500 people in British Columbia die by suicide. And although suicide is a leading cause of death for youth aged 15-24, the impact of suicide is actually greater among older people. Learning how to talk about suicide is one of the ways to help prevent it.

That’s why the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is bringing the Community Gatekeeper program to the Kootenay Boundary region. Community Gatekeepers are people in a community who have been trained to recognize when someone could be at risk of suicide, talk with them, help them keep safe, and connect them to community supports and resources.

“Community Gatekeeper training offers simple, life-saving, suicide intervention skills that anyone can, and should, learn,” said Patricia Whalen, Regional Gatekeeper Coordinator at CMHA Kootenays. “Much like first aid, having the knowledge, skills and confidence to help someone at risk can be the difference between life and death.”

Community Gatekeeper training follows curriculum shown to be effective at increasing knowledge, skill and willingness to intervene, as well as helping reduce the risk of suicide. Over 100,000 people in 30 countries attend similar training each year. Across BC, CMHA is working to train 20,000 Community Gatekeepers over the next three years.

“Our goal is to make the Kootenay Boundary region safer places to live,” said Whalen. “Community Gatekeepers are in the unique position of being able to help prevent suicide and save lives in our community. Not just as first responders, but as elders, teachers, clergy and coaches. We’d like to help train people in every workplace, organization and the community at large.”

CMHA Kootenays is hosting a Community Gatekeeper safeTALK half-day suicide alert skills training session for non-profit organizations on June 21, at its new training centre (1000B 21st Avenue North) and will also be hosting ASIST, the two-day intervention training session on July 7 and 8, also at its new training centre.

To learn more or to register or to book a workshop for your community group or organization, please contact Patricia Whalen at 250-426-5222 ext.3124 or at [email protected].

CMHA is Canada’s most established mental health charity and the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health. CMHA helps people access the resources they need to maintain and improve mental health, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness. Each year in B.C. alone, CMHA serves more than 100,000 people all across the province. For mental health and addiction information and resources visit


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