The Wachiay Friendship Centre in partnership with School District 71 is able to continue a youth suicide prevention program likely for the next couple of school terms thanks to a nod of approval from the regional district.
The board has allocated $20,000 of a $300,000 Vancouver Island Health Authority grant towards the program, which ran at a difficult time last year in the wake of youth suicides that occurred locally.
“It was just coincidence that we had been able to reinstate the program in the schools,” said Wachiay program director Roger Kishi, noting the Crossroads Crisis Centre had previously operated the suicide prevention program.
The $20,000 and other funding secured through the United Way will support the delivery of the program in Valley high schools.
“Our program is a suicide prevention program; it’s not a response protocol to suicide,” Kishi said.
Workshops aim to empower youth and adults to intervene and ensure suicidal people receive help. The goals are to break the silence and to put forth the message that suicide is preventable. Participants learn how to recognize warning signs and how to help someone at risk.
“The big message is if you think someone is showing signs of potentially suicidal intentions, you should ask them, ‘Are you thinking about hurting yourself?’ ” Kishi said. “We’ve got anecdotal feedback from people who took the workshop — and interventions were able to be made. To us that’s a success, even if it was only in one instance.”
During the past school term the program reached 1,965 students, 335 of whom were considered ‘at risk.’ This status was ascertained by evaluation forms filled out at the end of each presentation.