The Connect Program

Reduce Suicide Risk and Promote Healing – Suicide Postvention Training

A suicide can have a devastating impact on a community or organization. The shock and grief can ripple throughout the community affecting friends, co-workers, schools, and faith communities. Connect postvention training helps service providers respond in a coordinated and comprehensive way in the aftermath of a suicide or any sudden death.

Since knowing someone who has died by suicide is one of the highest risk factors for suicide, postvention becomes an integral part of suicide prevention efforts.  

More than “just training”, Connect fosters relationship building and the exchange of resources among participants.  Prior to the training, Connect staff work with the host agency to identify and incorporate local cultural issues and begin planning how the training will be applied and sustained.

Connect has developed postvention protocols for educators, emergency medical services, faith leaders, funeral directors, law enforcement, mental health/substance abuse providers, medical examiners, coroners, military, and social service providers.

Master trainer/clinicians conduct the six-hour training that includes activities, interactive case scenarios,  discussion, PowerPoint, and printed materials. A three-day Train-the-Trainer is also available.

Developing a Suicide Postvention Response Plan

This practical, interactive two- day training presents the Connect postvention curriculum (Day One) and facilitates the creation of a comprehensive postvention plan for your community (Day Two). Read more…

“Postvention Train-the-Trainer” and “Developing a Community Postvention Response Plan” COMBINED.

Offering a comprehensive four-day
program in suicide postvention read more…

Prior to conducting training, Connect staff would be in dialog with the sponsoring tribal entity to explore any tribal customs or circumstances that will need to be accommodated in the training process and materials. To date, we have done the following to adapt Connect to American Indian/Alaska Native communities while maintaining fidelity to our model.

Include key stakeholders and resources:

Elders, Tribal Council, Spiritual Healers, VPSOs, Behavioral Health Aides, IHS, IHE

Understand and Respect Tribal Customs and Culture

  • Recognize how limited resources and geography can present challenges in rural communities regarding postvention procedures
  • Offer national best practices in the context of tribal customs and culture
    • Offer substitute terms (e.g. “sudden death” for “suicide”, “good talk” for “safe messaging”)
    • Introduce safe messaging, lethal means restriction, media recommendations in ways that participants can incorporate into their own communities
  • Use a process that gives participants space to feel comfortable talking about suicide
  • Recognize traditional healing for individuals at risk and those who have lost a loved one to suicide
  • Understand that every tribe is different
  • Discuss the delicate, dual role of service provider and tribal member in small villages/rural settings
  • Honor tribal strengths and protective factors (e.g. culture, strong relationships, ties to earth, survival skills, healing practices)

Adaptations to Training Process

  • Gently guide training, not direct it
  • Obtain permission to proceed and to talk about suicide
  • Connect builds on the existing strengths of American Indian/Alaska Native communities
  • Invite an opening prayer
  • Invite members to translate materials into their own language
  • Explain interactive activities in advance to clarify intended outcome
  • Understand and validate the impact of historical and recent trauma on the group
  • Arrange trainings in a comfortable setting using circular arrangement
  • Provide information in an interactive manner using illustrations, stories and symbols when possible

Training Highlights:

  • Best practices on how to coordinate a comprehensive and safe response to a suicide
  • Strategies for reducing the risk of contagion
  • Review of the complexity of suicide-related grief, especially for different age groups
  • Recommendations for funerals and memorial activities
  • Suggestions of how to talk to survivors of suicide loss to promote their healing
  • Best practices for safe messaging about suicide and responding to the media
  • Identification of community resources to promote healing

Connect Suicide Postvention training can be provided in the following formats:

  1. Training – one day (six hours) See above for curriculum.
  2. Training and Planning – two days. Day One presents the Connect curriculum. Day Two optimizes the training in Day One by facilitating the development of a postvention response plan. The interactive planning process empowers a community to create a plan based on 15 key elements from Day One in the context of their own culture and available resources. (read more about the training program)
  3. Train-the-trainer – three days. (read more about Train-the-Trainer)
  4. Combination: Postvention Response Planning and Train-the-Trainer – four days. This comprehensive format includes training, developing a plan, and creating a team of local trainers to provide on-going training. The T4T component creates sustainability and strengthens the plan across service sectors of the community.

Customized trainings are offered to the audiences below:

American Indians/Alaska Natives
Colleges and Universities
Emergency Medical Services
Faith Leaders/Communities
Funeral Directors
Hospital Emergency Departments
Law Enforcement

Medical Examiners/Coroners
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Providers
Primary Care Providers
Social Service Agencies

Individuals who have had a loss from suicide, particularly a recent loss (such as within the past year), may find that a suicide prevention training evokes discomfort and/or feelings of regret. It is recommended that anyone who is impacted by a loss to suicide contact the instructor before attending the training to determine their readiness for prevention training and to discuss any alternative programs which may be more appropriate. Similarly, although Postvention training is focused on healing, the subject matter may be difficult for newer survivors. Survivors are encouraged to contact Connect staff in advance to discuss their readiness for participation.