The Healing Hounds are partnering with the Social Work Association and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to hold a safeTALK workshop on Oct. 15 in hopes to bring suicide awareness to the University of Indianapolis community, according to a post from the Healing Hounds Instagram page. With the completion of the four-hour-long workshop, people who attend will become suicide-alert helpers. Suicide-alert helpers are people who learn special skills that allow them to be a resource for those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college-age students. Consequently, suicide-alert helpers are an essential part of college campuses. The President of the Healing Hounds and senior social work major David Carpenter believes that suicide-alert helpers are extremely important to have on UIndy’s campus.
“If somebody is in dire need of help, they should always seek that help out from a professional whenever they can,” Carpenter said. “But the reason why we should have safeTALK certified individuals on campus is so they become more aware of the resources in the community. . . Another student can approach them and say ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ [and] get them to open that conversation and then link them with necessary resources.”
The main purpose of the safeTALK workshop is to provide UIndy’s campus with more resources for suicide prevention through students and even faculty, according to Vice President of the Healing Hounds and senior social work major Jennifer Leonard. She said suicide is not a light topic and most people are nervous to bring it up—it’s something that a lot of people struggle with and more often than not, this struggle happens in secret. SafeTALK is designed to help “embrace the awkward” of talking about suicide, Carpenter said.
“SafeTALK provides us with the language that can be used with someone that is struggling [with suicide], or allies [and] survivors,” said Leonard.
According to Leonard, during the workshop, students will learn that the main way to help someone who is thinking about suicide is to just be straightforward and clear with them. The safeTALK advocates for students to question those who appear to be suicidal by simply asking them “Are you thinking about suicide?” The question is so blunt and sudden that individuals will be inclined to answer honestly, Leonard said.
“We’ve all struggled with anxiety or depression, all of us have had it,” Leonard said. “We know that [it] tends to build up inside of us. And, so, a lot of times if somebody is thinking of suicide, just to be asked that question is a relief because they want help, usually.”
As the Learning Center of North Carolina reports, college students face a lot of stress—between keeping up with their classes and extracurriculars to having a social life and possibly even keeping a job. However, according to Leonard and Carpenter, the safeTALK workshop provides communities with suicide-alert helpers who are trained and certified to be a resource for students who are struggling with an overload of stress.
“You never know when you’re going to come in contact with somebody that’s struggling,” Carpenter said. “. . .So, it would be nice for other college students to have the skills and the tools necessary to approach them and help them through those difficult moments.”
While all 30 seats for the workshop are currently full, students can still register to be placed on a waitlist, according to Carpenter. Additionally, the Healing Hounds plan to try and make safeTALK an annual event on UIndy’s campus. However, if students are not able to attend the safeTALK, Carpenter said, the Healing Hounds will host other events relating to several mental health issues that are open to everyone, including allies. Information for all events can be found via the Healing Hounds social media @uindyhealinghounds on Instagram.