Bring your target group together and ask them:
- What gives you hope?
- Where do you have a sense of belonging?
- Where do you find meaning?
- What gives you purpose?
Form a working committee
Who should be involved?
To form your committee, build on existing and new relationships, within and outside of your community. Consider these questions – who in your community:
- is recognized for their wisdom and leadership?
- is already working in suicide prevention or mental health?
- is recognized as a helper and healer to those who have considered suicide?
Think about who might be able to help move the plan forward who is not in your community. Do you have any partnerships with people or organizations outside of your community that might be useful?
Don’t know where to start?
Also consider some of the reasons why your population may consider suicide, and what brings them closer to life. For example, if your population is older adults, loneliness, isolation and a sense of burdensomeness can be issues. Once these concerns have been validated by the group, consider, for example, reaching out to an organization that connects young people and older adults and draw them into the planning process.
Need more ideas? Consider: suicide prevention advocates, mental health and addictions workers, people who have been impacted by suicide, advocates for your group, social workers, community outreach workers, educators, elected officials, faith/cultural leaders, family members, service clubs, coaches, local businesses, law enforcement, healthcare providers, policy makers.
Other things to consider:
- Who will care about this plan? Engage those who are passionate.
- What might prevent someone from joining the committee? Try to overcome barriers in advance.
- Who brings value to this working committee? Be discerning about who you include, considering the skills and passions of those you invite.
Bring committee members together
Before you meet, think about ways you might get to know each other at that meeting and begin building relationships. Introductions and ice-breaker questions, for example, are a good way of encouraging interaction and engagement.
Consider any logistics that may arise, for example, arranging a room to meet in, providing transportation, childcare, and food, if necessary.
Here are some sample agenda items for the first meeting:
- Define the issue
- Establish the structure of the committee or terms of reference (e.g. how will the committee operate? How will decisions be made?)
- Explore the vision and mission
- Discuss recruiting new members
- Outline communication methods
Caring for the carers
Take steps to ensure you and the other committee members take care of yourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually so you can maintain your own mental health as you move through this process.
It is typical to seek professional help when working in suicide prevention – this is difficult work. Ensure you and the committee members are aware of what mental health resources are available.
After reviewing the information available to you, answer the following questions:
- Who is being affected by suicide in the community? (Note location, age, sex, gender, ethnicity or other relevant demographic information)
- How are these people dying by suicide?
- Why are they dying by suicide? (Note factors like mental health issues, social isolation)
- What is happening in the community? What is prompting this work?
What’s great in your community? Brainstorm community assets. Consider:
- Existing programs and services
- Existing resources
- Community facilities (e.g. swimming pool, arena)
- External partnerships with organizations, leaders, institutions
- Other available programs, services and resources outside the community
- Facilities and services near the community (e.g. public transit, library, hospital, park)