Acadia Mental Health Initiative to Host “Engaging Suicide” Community Summit

Acadia Mental Health Initiative to Host “Engaging Suicide” Community Summit
By Emily Kathan

The Acadia Mental Health Initiative is hosting an important event for the community at large, including and especially local youth, first responders, and people with lived experience with suicide themselves or who support others who struggle. Taking place on Sunday, March 31 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at Acadia’s Fountain Learning Commons, the Engaging Suicide and Building Resilience Community Summit aims to begin new conversations and open up new sources of community strength and support through workshops and keynote sessions.

Jenna Purkis, coordinator of the Acadia Mental Health Initiative, says they began planning the even last fall, and the need for more community discussion was further confirmed by the response to their screening of The S word documentary at the Al Whittle on February 28. Although the film was followed by a time for discussion, Purkis says, “it was clear that there is a need for opportunities for more conversation. The summit seemed like a natural progression from the screening, and allows for a model where people from both Acadia and the wider community can come together in an informal and collaborative setting.”

The event also emerged from an understanding of the importance of engaging the topic in innovative ways, which is where the focus on resilience comes from. Purkis notes that in both academia and advocacy communities, conversations are moving away from a purely medical script, where suicide is understood in terms of clinical interventions and treated as an illness. Instead, the summit organizers aim to open up space for understanding and engaging suicidality from a community perspective. Workshops will engage with ideas about how to build resilience in ourselves and support it in others, and how to hold space for suffering, along with tools for building communication and trust within families, friendships, and the community.

Supported through funding from several community health boards and Injury Free Nova Scotia, the event will feature two keynotes speakers ( Andrew Potter Cogan and Asha Croggan) and two workshops, facilitated by Andrew Potter Cogan and by Kiara Sexton, along with an open space discussion. Lunch will be provided.

For more information and to register to attend (tickets are free), visit the Engaging Suicide & Building Resilience: Community Summit event page: facebook.com/events/351943838752587/