Addressing suicide in Cumberland County

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Community members train to identify and prevent

A community can help prevent a suicide if it can better read the warning signs, and sessions were held here on Saturday to help enable them to do both.

Mike Price, provincial director of CAST (Communities Addressing Suicide Together), takes part in a Safe Talk training session at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre on Saturday, April 5.

UPPER NAPPAN – The Cumberland County CAST Coalition hosted a Safe Talk training session at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre on Saturday morning, followed by a community forum in the afternoon.

“The goal is to make all counties in Nova Scotia suicide safe, which is a formal designation we can receive,” said Mike Price, director of CAST (Communities Addressing Suicide Together.) The provincial group of the Canadian Mental Health Association includes coalitions in different parts of the province, with the Cumberland County group being among the most recently formed.

The Safe Talk session was full to capacity, with a wide range of community representatives taking part, including health care professionals, police officers and other concerned citizens.

“It’s a general alertness program for anyone and everyone in the community, to help them recognize the warning signs and risk factors,” said Price. “The concept is that, if a lot of people are training in Safe Talk, and more people are getting training for more intensive interventions, then we will have sort of a network of support.”

Among the participants was Holly Rafuse, a nurse practitioner in Pugwash who also works at the teen clinic there. She said she hoped to take what she learned back to her community.

“We very much get people who are suicidal at times, and it would to have some help, and have some formal training to better deal with it and provide those services,” she said. “I’m just looking for more information. Maybe there are services already in the community that I’m not even aware of.”

The afternoon forum was specifically targeted at Cumberland County, providing an opportunity to discuss existing suicide resources, education and training, and to plan the way forward.

“We will help them develop a community plan,” said Price. “So we will be walking through a number of steps and set goals, to figure out what they already have and what is working, what are the gaps, and how do we fill those gaps.”

He said there has been increasing interest in suicide prevention across Nova Scotia, particularly since the death of Cole Harbour student Rehtaeh Parsons one year ago.

Both the Safe Talk session and the community forum were supported by Cumberland County’s three community health boards.

awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Cumberland County CAST Coalition, Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, Pugwash

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