Suicide prevention training sessions aim to equip students and faculty


The Appalachian Online

Charlotte Wray

Monday, students and faculty attended the first suicide prevention training of the 2015-2016 school year, in the Rough Ridge room in the Plemmons Student Union.

Tom Kane, University Housing Director and Gateway Suicide Prevention Trainer presented the suicide prevention training.

Fourteen people attended, nine of those were students and five were faculty and staff members.

Kane spoke statistics and facts surrounding suicide, as well as warning signs, risk factors and how to talk to a person who exhibits signs of distress or suicidal idealization.

The training began comfortable, though quiet, but as it continued, communication increased and students and faculty began to talk more openly about the steps to take to help someone who shows possible signs of distress.

“It was very helpful to have an introduction to talking to someone about it [suicide], because it’s not a comfortable conversation to have,” senior psychology major Morgan Gray said. “Having that direct practice of thinking about how you would deal with it so that you’re not unprepared if a situation should arise, I just think it’s really important.”

Many students attended the training to receive extra credit in some of their classes and some attended because they knew someone struggling with thoughts of suicide.

“[The training] was recommended to me from a professor…but I also have a lot of friends who have struggled in the past with things like depression and bipolar disorder,” Gray said. “I just think that learning about the risk factors is important before they show up.”

“I’m trained in first aid,” Gray said. “It’s kind of the same concept to me, of you need to prepare before something happens.”

Kane talked on, listening, empathizing and asking questions with a friend who is dealing with a mental illness or who is struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“That one person we talk to, that we care about, it’ll make a difference to their life,” Kane said. “We can’t look at the massiveness of an issue we need to look at oneness. It’s a whole lot easier to walk by than it is to stop.”

The A.P.P.S. intervention is the model given to help someone talk to a person in distress. A.P.P.S. stands for Approach and acknowledge, Probe, Promote hope and Share referrals.

This ultimately means to acknowledge the fact that someone is in distress, ask specific questions, talk about the hope they have and encourage and assist them in finding help with someone who is qualified to help them.

“I do a lot of presentations on a lot of different topics,” Kane said. “This is one of the few that I can actually say that people actually listen, they pay attention, they take notes.”

“There are times when I see people troubled by what they see on the screen. They aren’t offended, but they’re like ‘wow, that’s personal to me,’” Kane said. “I think this training is real, I like to think we make a difference by doing this work.”

According to the Prevent Suicide webpage, the training sessions are scheduled throughout the rest of the semester.

“Going through the training, practicing to do this, I mean, this has nothing really to do with my job,” Kane said, “But it does, I mean in the most basic realm it has nothing to do with housing, per se, but it has everything to do with our students.”

Story by Charlotte Wray, Intern News Reporter