Suicide Prevention, Postvention and Awareness Committee

Network/coalition name:  Windsor-Essex Suicide Prevention, Postvention and Awareness Committee

Primary contact: Dr. Janet Orchard

Communities included within your committee: Windsor-Essex County

Number of agencies involved in your committee: 11

Sectors involved in the committee:  Youth mental health, adult mental health, education, child welfare, community support services (LGBTQ), health

Website address: Information about the Windsor-Essex Suicide Prevention, Postvention and Awareness Committee can be found on the Maryvale website


How did your committee start?

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services awarded a grant to Windsor-Essex County in 2013-2014.  A small committee of interested agencies and school boards came together to begin planning on behalf of our community.


Describe the goals/objectives of your committee:

In 2014, the Committee focused on three key objectives:

a)  Develop an environmental scan of the Windsor- Essex County community

  • describe level of need (which we know is significant)
  • current prevention activities
  • current services and pathways to these services
  • gaps in prevention and responses to crisis and follow up services

b) Enhance Collaboration

  • proposed improvements to pathways and collaborative responses with existing resources
  • proposed new services and pathways
  • do an environmental scan, write proposals regarding pathways for response and for future services needed

c)   Build professional capacity and knowledge


Describe some of the key activities your committee has been involved in?

The following list of activities were initiated and completed by the Windsor-Essex Suicide Prevention, Postvention and Awareness Committee in 2014:

  • Completed an environmental scan surveying Windsor-Essex County’s existing services, supports and readiness to become involved in a collaborative suicide prevention initiative, including next steps and strategies.
  • Identified additional interested community partners.
  • Created and distributed 200 laminated double-sided wall charts titled Youth: Suicide Assessment and Community Referral that identified available crisis, urgent and non-urgent services available to youth up to 18 years of age.
  • Created and distributed 2800 double-sided laminated wallet resource cards for primary care providers to give to families, youth and other care providers.
  • Established a community structure (committee) among a group of key stakeholders to support ongoing sharing of resources and knowledge towards suicide prevention.
  • An improved sense of shared commitment across the sectors.
  • 40 people certified in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), 25 of these are front line child and youth workers in the Greater Essex County District School Board.
  • 60 people certified in safe TALK suicide alertness training.
  • Six clinicians attended Dr. Turecki’s presentation on the suicidal brain.

In 2015, the Committee continues to work towards its goal of preventing youth suicide and increasing awareness of the issue in our community. The Committee will continue to focus on enhancing collaboration, targeting the involvement of additional key stakeholders and is taking steps to develop and sustain professional capacity and knowledge. Some activities will include:

  • Train a minimum of ten professionals as trainers in SafeTALK.
  • Train high school students in all of four local interested boards of education in safeTALK and develop follow-up supports for these youth.
  • Update and distribute to the chart outlining where to go given level of severity of presenting issue doctors, professionals and school personnel.
  • Develop an app for downloading to phones on indicators and resources.
  • Pursue consultation from the police, multicultural council, funeral home directors and the media.
  • Carry out communications, coordination and documentation of above activities.


What success factors can you identify that are helping your committee to achieve your desired outcomes?

  • There is shared keen interest across sectors in preventing youth suicide in Windsor-Essex County.
  • In many ways, we already work in collaboration with established protocols which allows us to build on some existing initiatives for a greater, more integrated impact.
  • Many of the services in this community have established partnerships that can also make it easier to work together towards shared objectives.


Has your committee faced any significant challenges? What are they and what have you done (or what’s being done) to address them?

Our existing resources are limited.  Our community has worked hard to make the most of the funds made available by MYCS to move our community closer to its preferred reality as it relates to keeping our youth safe.


Do you have any tips for other communities mobilizing around youth suicide prevention, risk management and postvention?

Wherever possible, build on existing partnerships and initiatives.


Have you evaluated the efforts of your group?

The Committee will continue to track and record its activities and measure, where possible, the impact of each. For example, pre- and post-training questionnaires will allow us to measure impact on participants that attend the safeTALK trainings sessions.  As well, it is expected that there will be an opportunity to track how frequently the Be Safe App is accessed over time. 

One of the tools that has had a very positive response is a Youth Suicide Assessment and Community Referral wall chart that was modelled after one created by the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.