Our YOKE Folk strive to form deep, authentic relationships with the students they serve. When this happens, the students often feel comfortable opening up about struggles and unfortunately, suicidal thoughts are all too common among adolescents. According to a study from the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide was the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34 in 2016. That is why YOKE takes suicide prevention seriously.

Part of YOKE’s commitment to investing in leaders involves providing them with training opportunities so that they can be prepared when situations like this arrive. At our 2019 YOKE Leadership Summit, YOKE Folk participated in training provided by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, where they learned how to respond to people having thoughts of suicide. The core principle of this training was “QPR”— which stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer.” This method involves questioning whether the individual is considering suicide, persuading them to commit to staying safe until they can receive help, and referring them to someone that can help them.

Last month, two members of YOKE’s staff, Leah Carter and Eli Smith, attended an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) training provided by TSPN. The ASIST training comes from the LivingWorks Program, a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention which involves the entire community.

The ASIST training largely revolves around the PAL (Pathway for Assisting Life) model of suicide prevention. The goal of the PAL model is “safety for now”— meaning that the aim is for the individual having thoughts of suicide to agree to keep safe until they can receive professional help. It is an iterative process that involves three main steps: connectingwith the individual over the idea of suicide, understanding the individual’s choices and hearing their story, and assisting them in creating a plan that will keep them safe for now.

YOKE is grateful for the partnership of TSPN to help ensure that our leaders are prepared to assist in suicide prevention.  Visit www.tspn.org for more resources on suicide prevention. If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to anyone 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).