ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training for Students and Staff; Saint Angelas, NUI Galway

Contact: Dr Maria Gallo, mgallo@stangelas.nuigalway.ie

As a College that offers teacher and nurse education, St Angela’s College, Sligo recognises that in professional life the teachers and nurses of the future will encounter those in vulnerable and difficult situations. With the high rate of suicide among young people in Ireland, and in particular in the north west and western regions, the St Angela’s College, Sligo response is to equip students and staff with the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) programme.

ASIST is described by the National Office for Suicide Prevention as: ‘…a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first-aid. It is suitable for all kinds of caregivers - health workers, teachers, community workers, Gardai, youth workers, volunteers, people responding to family, friends and co-workers.’ (http://www.nosp.ie/html/training.html). This initiative is possible because of the support of the Mental Health Promotion/Suicide Resource Officer in the Health Service Executive, West.

Students in the Bachelor of Education in Home Economics and Bachelor of Nursing (General and Intellectual Disability Nursing) participate in the ASIST programme. While this is offered as part of the academic programme for the teacher and nurse education programmes, students elect to participate, and this yields an almost full participation among the undergraduate student population. The training is organised by staff in the Department of Nursing & Health Studies at St Angela’s College, Sligo who also extend their expertise as trainers in a volunteer capacity to this initiative. It is offered to students free of charge. Staff members at the College are also encouraged to participate as part of a professional development programme.

College students are required to complete work-related placements (clinical placement in hospitals for nursing students; teaching practice in schools/non-traditional educational settings for education students). While on placement students these new skills in suicide first-aid provide a firm foundation for the support of students, patients and members of the community. St Angela’s College, Sligo is the first third-level College in the Ireland to offer this programme to all undergraduate students and there are plans to integrate the learning further into College programme curriculum.

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