I am passionate about this work. I have been from that very first intervention on the phone so many years ago. However, the one thing that I am most proud of is that I have consistently advocated for those with lived experience to be a central part of this work. As part of the development of the Here4Hope framework, I spoke to those that attempted suicide and those bereaved by suicide and elevated their voices to honor them.
1. What is involved in your role?
As the Suicide Prevention Project Lead, my role involves supporting life promotion and suicide prevention efforts both in the community and within the organization. To be effective in this work it is important to combine the best and promising practices for suicide prevention, the wisdom of those with lived experience and the knowledge of local service providers when planning and implementing activities and programs.
In the spring of this year, after considerable community consultation I launched the Here4Hope framework that identifies all of the components that make up community suicide prevention. A partnership between CMHA WW, the County of Wellington and the OPP is going to provide leadership and drive implementation of the Here4Hope project for the next three years. Part of that work will include me supporting the development of an internal wellness strategy for the County of Wellington.
Another important focus of my work will involve looking for ways to strengthen our internal capacity to support community members struggling with suicide. This will include considering how we will stay well ourselves while doing this challenging work.
2. Why did you become involved in the mental health field?
My career in mental health started at CMHA Halton where I was the Manager of Mental Health Promotions and Marketing. Shortly after I joined the organization, I took an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training course. One week later, I found myself involved with a high-risk suicide intervention on the phone. That was the beginning of my interest in preventing suicide.
3. Have you always worked in mental health?
No actually I spent most of my early career in sales and marketing in the Pharmaceutical and corporate sectors. I also built two successful businesses including a recreational marine sailing and service business. I grew up on the water in Nova Scotia and sailed here in Ontario and in the Caribbean.
4. How do you support people in your role?
In the past 15 years, I have felt privileged to be able to support many individuals in crisis and hundreds of family members and friends bereaved by suicide. Having said that the focus of much of my work is on helping organizations, communities and systems to mobilize around the issue of suicide. That work includes not just sharing knowledge and understanding of suicide but supporting the community to build layers of support to create a true safety net for those struggling with suicide.
5. What are you proud of during your time in your role?
I am passionate about this work. I have been from that very first intervention on the phone so many years ago. However, the one thing that I am most proud of is that I have consistently advocated for those with lived experience to be a central part of this work. As part of the development of the Here4Hope framework, I spoke to those that attempted suicide and those bereaved by suicide and elevated their voices to honor them as the true experts. I encourage anyone serious about understanding suicide to do the same.
If you are in crisis or wish to discuss whether CMHA has the right service for you, call Here 24/7: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE 247).
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