“TALK: Tell, Ask, Listen and KeepSafe. These are the actions anyone can take to prevent suicide,” explained South Orangetown Middle School Prevention Counselor Bobbie-Angela Wong, who co-led a half-day SafeTALK training with Tappan Zee High School Psychologist Bradley Hercman, Psy.D., for TZHS staff on the May 26 Superintendent’s Conference Day. TZHS Prevention Counselor Ponnu Varghese-John, who is also a certified trainer, was the community resource for attendees who needed to speak with a mental health professional during the event.
The program is designed to train participants to be suicide alert, to effectively engage those who might be having thoughts of suicide and to connect them with community suicide intervention resources. The May 26 session was the third offered in the District to date.
“The ‘safe’ part of SafeTALK stands for ‘suicide alertness for everyone.’ The goal is to help people move beyond misconceptions that could cause them to miss or dismiss someone in crisis. “You don’t need a specialized background to connect people in need with the resources to help them,” Wong said.
The training has had an impact. “Participants reported feeling that the workshop helped them feel more empowered to support our students and members of our community who may be most at-risk,” noted Hercman. “The training provides participants with the language to express their concerns and a simple formula to make the necessary connections to keep those who may be at risk safe.”
If you believe that a person is in crisis and in danger of harming themselves or others, call 911 or the Rockland County Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT) Crisis Line at (845) 517-0400.
During school hours when schools are in session, students, staff and parents are strongly encouraged to reach out directly to their building principal or school counselor to access support for themselves or others.