Implementing Suicide Response Training at Douglas College

Posted December 22nd, 2022 by Lina Moskaleva & Stephanie Quon 

The Crisis Centre of BC is dedicated to preparing future helping professionals to be knowledgeable about suicide intervention and prepared to respond skillfully in crisis situations . This includes skills and confidence to recognize suicidal thoughts, speak directly about suicide, and help ensure safety by building a person’s connection to resources in their community.  

An example of how the Crisis Centre is doing this is a recent partnership with Douglas College’s Therapeutic Recreation program. This program prepares graduates to use leisure activities to support the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of individuals.  An instructor from the program reached out to the Crisis Centre in the Spring of 2022 with the idea of developing a course in  suicide response training to be part of the program curriculum that would allow both in person and online students to participate. The first iteration of the course was recently wrapped up.

“The  Crisis Centre of BC was very responsive to my inquiry and together we designed a format for delivery for students in on-line and in-person undergrad programs” says Janice Spencer, TR faculty instructor. “The content from the Crisis Centre is well paced and practical. Students have increased knowledge and competence about suicide awareness and response and they now have a strong connection to the Crisis Centre in their future professional practice.”

Lu Ripley, Director of the Centre’s Community Learning & Engagement team, shares: “We want future human services leaders to be able to respond to suicide. It can be challenging for many to talk about suicide, and this curriculum makes space for students to reflect on their attitudes and feelings, and how this also might fit into their cultural experiences.”

The course developed for the Douglas College Therapeutic Recreation program begins with an online asynchronous portion, followed by an in-person or virtual synchronous portion. The online portion includes a discussion about how the stigma surrounding suicide impacts both people in the helping professions  and people with thoughts of suicide. The course goes on to teach students how to recognize signs of suicidal ideation, the importance of starting direct conversations about suicide, and how to connect individuals with other resources that can help build safety. Finally, the online portion concludes with an opportunity for the students to reflect on their own feelings and attitudes concerning suicide.

The individual portion is run synchronously in-person or virtually and includes a question and answer period, practice scenarios, and a case study.

The feedback on the training has been exceptionally positive:50 percent of students rated it a ten out of ten on usefulness, with the other 50 percent giving an eight or a nine rating. Students reported that the combination of the asynchronous and synchronous portions had been helpful for learning how to apply their skills by having an opportunity to reflect on the content during the recorded session and practice during the live session. As one student stated, “It was a useful module because it gave me confidence and understanding in how we can respond [to suicide thoughts] and how to provide resources.”

“The training was economical and easy to insert into the curriculum, and we are hoping to learn from this to expand it to other programs like Nursing and Child and Youth Care,” says Ripley who wants to expand the collaboration to include other programs at Douglas College, as well as other colleges.

If you or someone you know is aware of an agency or school that would benefit from suicide response training, please email to see how our wide spectrum of trainings can be utilized to build capacity within your school or organization.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please reach out:

  • Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789 (no area code required)
  • Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433

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Our Impact The topic and word "suicide" is not so scary after taking a training from the Crisis Centre of BC. I'm grateful to have been here today, and am hopeful that I can help people in the future. safeTALK participant, Agassiz