Brock SWAC to host Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training program

Photo Credit: Neonbrand on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Neonbrand on Unsplash

The Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) at Brock will be facilitating a two-day training program designed by LivingWorks to help improve participants’ suicide intervention skills.

The program, called Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), is a two-day face-to-face workshop featuring audiovisuals, discussions and simulations. At the workshop, participants will learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive.

The program comes as a result of Brock’s SWAC working extensively with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit organization that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults. According to Fennell, the centre received a full assessment of their mental health services and out of that, a recommendation was made to train the staff and students of the university to become comfortable talking about mental health.

“The training is geared towards both staff and students and the idea is that we’re working towards building a compassionate campus at Brock,” said Julie Fennel, Brock SWAC’s health promoter and facilitator of the ASIST training. “So that is a campus that would be comfortable supporting each other. If we notice that somebody is struggling, a place where we would ask how they’re doing and have no problem giving them the support they need to either make a connection to formal health care or just be that listening ear.”

Fennell also teaches the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program that is occasionally facilitated on campus. She acknowledged that though there are some similarities between the MHFA and ASIST programs, it is valuable to be trained in both as the differences in skills learned between the two are substantial.

“We practice a lot during the training so there’s a lot of self-reflection. There is a lot of understanding who you are and what your values are and what you’re bringing to the conversation when you’re supporting someone,” said Fennell. “So, we talk about situations then we practice a lot on how to support somebody and how to go through the steps of how to listen and how to reach out. The main difference between MHFA and ASIST is that with the ASIST program a lot more group-thinking and discussion is involved whereas MHFA is a lot more action-oriented.”

The workshop can accommodate up to 25 individuals each time it is run and interest in the program is very high as it comes at no cost to participants. Fennell hopes to be able to keep hosting the program in the future and give more members of the Brock community the opportunity to experience the training and gain the associated skills.

The upcoming training program is full, so a waitlist has been created for the next session which Fennell hopes to run in April. Individuals who would like to be added to the waitlist for the next training session or notified when new sessions are offered, are encouraged to email Julie Fennell at

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