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Renison University College leads the way in training BSW students in suicide intervention and prevention

Monday, December 7, 2015

For the second year in a row, suicide intervention training is being offered to Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) students at Renison University College.

Renison, affiliated with the University of Waterloo, is once again partnering with the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council to provide Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) for 60 students enrolled in the BSW program and numerous others in the part-time BSW. ASIST is an internationally recognized, accredited two-day suicide skills training workshop. While a handful of institutions in the country offer this training to their BSW students, it is response to a student-led initiative that BSW students are participating in covering the cost of the training, at a reduced price.

Tana Nash, executive director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council says it’s a big deal that Renison is continuing to do this training and build into the annual program. “We are delighted that Renison and its students are interested in taking this practical life-saving skills based training. With increased education, knowledge and comfort in discussing suicide, we can save more lives.”

Suicide prevention training for social workers is not currently mandated in Canada, despite the increasing numbers of suicidal ideation, attempts, and completed suicides within the province. Training and education for people who come in contact with high-risk individuals has been shown to be an effective suicide prevention intervention.

“Social work has an important role to play in creating suicide-safer communities.” says Professor Susan Cadell, Director of Renison’s School of Social Work, who recently completed her own ASIST training. “Having the skills to intervene with suicidal people and to create conversation are crucial tools for breaking the stigma of suicide.”

On December 7 and 8, 2015, two ASIST workshops of 30 students each will be facilitated by members of the Suicide Intervention Community Training Team who are comprised of a variety of local organizations and led by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Waterloo Wellington Dufferin Branch. Renison’s prospective social work graduates will learn how to identify people with thoughts of suicide and be given opportunity to learn and practice skills to equip them in delivering competent suicide interventions. 

Several suicide prevention and awareness trainings are available for workplaces, community groups, or can be taken as an individual. For more information, contact or visit


Tana Nash, Executive Director,
Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council
519-884-1470 ext 2143 or

Susan Cadell, Professor and Director,
Renison University College School of Social Work226-338-0625 or

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