Suicide prevention program targets teaching youth

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Grimshaw’s Centre for Suicide Prevention is introducing a program to help youth and their caregivers address uncomfortable feelings and thoughts they may encounter.

“This group is for youth and caregivers or parents that will provide both with more confidence to deal with and understand suicidal thoughts and behaviours,” says North Peace coordinator Casey Szmata.

“Suicide is a serious issue in our country, and more so in the north zone of Alberta which sees rates that are the highest in the province,” she adds.

The four-week group is for youth and young adults who are interested in understanding the thoughts and feelings that can lead to thinking about suicide and how to make safe choices. The program will run from Oct. 18 until Nov. 8 on Wednesdays from 6-7:30 pm at the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Grimshaw.

“Youth will learn to understand their feelings in a safe and caring environment, which learning to make connections and safe choices,” says Szmata.

“ A trained health professional and a peer support will be leading the group.”

The Skills for Safer Living Program is funded by Calgary’s Resources Centre for Suicide Prevention and thus will be provided to interested participants for free.

“There are many youths in need in the Peace Country; however, stigma still exists and holds people back from registering and getting help,” Szmata explains. “Our goal is to squash stigma, and show our youth that they are strong, important and can cope with their feelings and be safe.”

Topics discussed will include Understanding Feelings, Keeping Safe, Caring Connections, and Making Choices. The topics will also help youth identify when friends are also suffering with suicidal thoughts, giving them tools to help others around them.

“There are many things that can cause youth to feel this way, it isn’t usually one specific thing, but a multitude of things,” she explains.

“Join the group!! Even if your child is not suicidal, but you want to be proactive, join our group. We teach skills so that when/if the occasion arises, you are prepared.”

Szmata explains that skills will be taught to parents to help identify when their child is contemplating suicide and will give them tools to help them. The Centre for Suicide offers many courses to the public

that will teach them skills in dealing with suicide.

“Please spread the word,” asks Szmata. “This group is provided for free and is an amazing opportunity to learn and protect yourself and your children.”

If you are interested in attending, please email Casey at

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