HIGHLIGHTING INJURY PREVENTION IN ONTARIO
Case Study 5: Ottawa first municipality in Canada to offer safeTALK training to every employee
Starting in the fall of 2015, Ottawa became the first large city to offer safeTALK to all of its public employees. The Canadian capital employs over 17,000 staff, all of whom will have the opportunity to sign up for the training.
Over the last four years Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has partnered with the Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to promote and deliver safeTALK workshops in the community and in workplaces. SafeTALK is a half-day, evidence-based, suicide prevention workshop developed by LivingWorks. It teaches anyone over the age of 15, regardless of prior experience or training, to become alert to suicide and the steps to follow in order to keep people with thoughts of suicide safe by connecting them to life-saving intervention resources. The aim of this training in the workplace is to provide employers with skills in suicide prevention, to reduce stigma in the workplace and to encourage employees to reach out and seek support. The partnership between OPH, the Coalition and CMHA has allowed for a significant number of suicide prevention workshops to be conducted and community members to be trained. Since 2011, the Coalition, CMHA and other partners have trained over 6,000 community members in safeTALK throughout Ottawa.
Recently the City of Ottawa added safeTALK to the corporate Learning Centre training curriculum, making it the first municipality in Canada to offer such training to all staff. The program is being offered through a partnership between Ottawa Public Health and the city’s Human Resources department.
- Recent evaluation of the training in Ottawa has shown that 93% of participants now felt more comfortable to conduct a suicide intervention
- safeTALK provides opportunity for participants to increase their suicide awareness, resolve myths about suicide, and improved knowledge of intervention skills
- The training program offers participants guidance to consider how beliefs might impact a suicide intervention and to reflect on their willingness to intervene with a person who is distressed and having thoughts of suicide
- LivingWorks program evaluations regularly reflect an increase in participants’ knowledge, skills, and confidence, while a major study recently demonstrated that they also contribute to improved outcomes for those at risk of suicide.