SafeTALK: Training for Suicide Prevention

In my role as a river Chaplain, I’ve witnessed my fair share of tragedies. The work of a mariner can be both demanding and dangerous at times. Often we arrive on scene after an incident has occurred, and we’re equipped with training in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) to provide assistance to crews and shoreside personnel in dealing with loss or adversity. Yet, alongside CISM, an equally vital skill set we Chaplains possess is ASIST—Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training—aimed at averting tragedies proactively.

Raise awareness and provide your team with the tools they need to identify and assist individuals who may be contemplating suicide: Contact SCI Chaplain David Shirk. [email protected] | 270.210.5626

ASIST, a comprehensive two-day workshop developed by LivingWorks, is grounded in over three decades of research data. Its aim is to equip individuals with the necessary skills to intervene effectively when someone is at risk of suicide. But, recognizing the time constraints faced by many maritime companies, LivingWorks has also developed a condensed half-day program known as SafeTALK. This abbreviated training focuses on raising awareness and providing participants with the tools they need to identify and assist individuals who may be contemplating suicide and then connect them with relevant resources and support.

Recently, I had the privilege of leading a SafeTALK training session for Marquette Transportation at the Center for Maritime Education in Paducah. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees underscored the importance of such initiatives within the mariner community. Considering the challenges inland mariners face, both on and off vessels, the participants unanimously agreed on the need for this type of training in today’s maritime industry.

As SCI Chaplains, we are acutely aware of the threat posed by suicide to mariners. Often, the loss of a loved one to suicide can be sudden and unexpected, with signs either overlooked or dismissed. The goal of SafeTALK is to empower individuals to identify warning signs and address potential suicide ideation head-on. It helps those concerned to step forward and facilitate difficult conversations, and use the skills to make a difference. And, as depression is a concerning issue among mariners, so SafeTALK is a relevant and necessary course for those who work in our industry.

If you’ve read this, and are interested in scheduling a SafeTALK with your company at some point this year, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Seamen’s Church Institute. It’s an investment in prevention and empowering our close maritime community, supporting mariners and shoreside staff before a tragedy occurs.