Photo by Adam Baron

By: Joey Weisler

The Mobilizing MSD Alumni chapter has been busy providing solace to the Parkland community for the past five months since the school shooting occurred. Beginning this week, they will be bringing two programs targeted to students, parents, teachers, and coaches with a mission to take a proactive focus on suicide prevention.

The first program offered is safeTALK. Safe stands for suicide awareness for everyone and is a three-hour, half-day workshop and training program that is geared towards students ages 15+ preparing them to become a suicide-alert helper. The program will teach participants how to use words and actions to help potential suicide victims stay alive and allow them to take positive life-saving actions. 

The second offered program is ASIST – applied suicide intervention skills training, a two-day workshop that goes beyond other suicide prevention programs in teaching participants how to actually intervene and make a safe plan for someone at risk. It is open to everyone age 16+ who interacts with the MSD community, including teachers, students and their parents. 

Both workshops are being led by alumna Dena DeLucia, a former combat veteran who is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, along with her team from the U.S. Army Reserve and the Riverside Health System.

With costs being covered by Mobilizing MSD Alumni, all participants need to do is sign up. Marjory Stoneman Douglas teachers can also get professional development credits and students can earn service hours for attending. 

“The event is open to the entire community,” said DeLucia. “And we highly encourage student leaders from the cadet battalion commander to the drum major and sports team captains along with coaches, administrators, security and resource officers to attend.”

While in attendance for ASIST, DeLucia said that participants can expect a two-day workshop in “suicide first aid.” Attendees will additionally learn how to recognize when someone may be having thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan to ‘safe for now’. 

Over the course of the two days, the workshop will involve an analysis of attitudes on the views of suicide, identifications of key elements to make effective individual suicide safety plans, and recognizing the importance of life promotion and self-care activities. 

“We will do this through powerful audio-visual learning aids, group discussions, as well as skill practice and development,” DeLucia explains.  “Overall, the goal of every ASIST session is for each participant to be able to walk away feeling a little bit more comfortable than they did before they got there on how to intervene after recognizing someone is at risk for suicide and being able to work with them to create a plan to keep them safe.”  As such, participants will strategically be able to work towards facilitating a suicide safer community.

SafeTALK will be offered on Wednesday, July 18, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Westglades Middle School or from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. at the Parkland Recreation Center (PREC): 10561 Trails End, Parkland, FL 33076.  Attendees can register at http://msdstrongalum.com/safetalk

ASIST will be offering two sessions, with each session lasting two days: July 16 – July 17 and July 19 – July 20. Both from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Westglades Middle School.  Lunch will be provided. Full attendance is required for both days of the registered session in order to receive certification.  Attendees can register at http://msdstrongalum.com/ASIST