The Connect Program

Suicide Prevention and Intervention Training with a Community-Based Approach

Connect Suicide Prevention/Intervention Training increases the capacity of professionals and communities to prevent suicide across the lifespan. Connect uses a public health approach and incorporates key elements of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy. Applying a unique holistic model and offering a community planning component, Connect stands apart from other training programs.

Connect’s curriculum includes how to identify suicide warning signs and intervene with a person at risk. Building on that foundation, Connect focuses on the community as a whole and how to work across systems to build a safety net for people at risk. An second day optimizes the training by facilitating the development of a suicide prevention plan in the context of the community’s resources and culture.

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 local cultural or other issues.

Connect has developed protocols for educators, community members, faith leaders, hospital emergency departments, law enforcement, mental health and substance abuse providers, military, primary care providers, and social services.

Connect training includes activities, interactive case scenarios, facilitated discussion, PowerPoint, and written materials.

Building a Safety Net: Creating a Community Suicide Prevention Plan

To build a truly comprehensive safety net, it’s important to go beyond identifying risk factors and warning signs.  Read more…

“Prevention/Intervention Train-the-Trainer” and “Building a Safety Net: Developing a
Community Prevention Response Plan” COMBINED.

Offering a comprehensive four-day
 program in suicide prevention 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:

  • How to recognize early warning signs of mental illness, substance abuse and other risk factors leading to suicide
  • How to intervene and connect a suicidal person to resources
  • Attitudes towards suicide and the effects of stigma
  • National suicide trends and statistics
  • Individual and community risk and protective factors
  • Best practices on restricting access to lethal means and safe messaging
  • The influence of electronic communication and media
  • Roles and responsibilities of local service providers and others in the community to collaborate in building a safety net for persons at risk

Connect Suicide Prevention/Intervention 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 plan to build a community safety net around suicide prevention. 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: Prevention 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 Indian/Alaska Native
Colleges and Universities
Community Members (Gatekeepers)
Domestic Violence Agencies
Emergency Medical Services
Faith Leaders/Communities
Hospitals/Emergency Rooms

Law Enforcement
Mental Health/Substance Abuse Providers
Older Adult Service 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. Survivors are encouraged to contact Connect staff in advance to discuss their readiness for participation.