ASIST and safeTALK Workshops Offer Rural Residents Opportunity to Learn Suicide Prevention – Agweek

The pandemic has proven to have a silver lining for rural communities and mental health – more resources and understanding have become available virtually, according to a mental health advocate.

Cassandra Linkenmeyer is the director of the Minnesota chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Linkenmeyer was recently a guest on the Agweek podcast.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a national nonprofit organization and its mission is to “save lives and help all those affected by suicide,” Linkenmeyer said. She said much of the work of the nonprofit as well as other groups promoting suicide prevention has focused on farming and rural communities in recent years.

“It’s been kind of one of the frontier areas of suicide prevention, here in Minnesota, but especially in any state with a large farming or rural community,” Linkenmeyer said. “We know there are a lot of different factors for that, when it comes to living in a rural area, including things like lack of access to mental health care providers, and just kind of of stigma, and the lack of information that still exists around mental health and suicide.”

Linkenmeyer said there is also a lot of isolation in rural communities, which necessitates a greater focus on mental health and suicide prevention.

“So it’s been a priority for organizations like mine and other partner organizations across the state to help fill that need in the farming community,” she said.

One thing that has helped during the pandemic, Linkenmeyer said, is the addition of virtual resources, which go a long way in helping rural communities.

“I think a positive that has come out of the pandemic is more the development of virtual trainings, virtual therapies or talk therapy – so we’re taking away that if you need to see someone it’s not not a two or three hour drive to get to your nearest mental health professional,” Linkenmeyer said. “We can now do it over the phone, or we can have a video conference with a professional to help you. So I think there’s a lot of hope.”

ASIST – which stands for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training – is one of the programs offered by LivingWorks, which is an AFSP partner organization.

“We love to sponsor their programs and trainings in our state and across the country because they are simply outstanding trainings when it comes to helping people in difficulty,” Linkenmeyer said.

ASIST is a two-day face-to-face workshop featuring powerful audiovisuals, discussions and simulations. At an ASIST workshop, participants learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing the signs, performing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive.

Two knowledgeable trainers will guide participants through the course, ensuring their comfort and safety.

safeTALK workshops are what Linkenmeyer calls a “mini-training” of ASIST workshops. A safeTALK session consists of a four-hour, face-to-face workshop featuring powerful presentations, audiovisuals, and skills practice.

At a safeTALK workshop, participants learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing the signs, engaging someone, and connecting them to an intervention resource for additional support. A trainer leads a safeTALK workshop.

Linkenmeyer said that for people like his brother, who works in a farming co-op, safeTALK is a great option for learning about suicide prevention.

“Anyone who works with a lot of people, if you can know these signs and what to look for, if we can look for these calls for help that can be ignored, we can help save people,” he said. she stated.

To find upcoming ASIST and safeTALK events in Minnesota,

visit the AFSP website


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