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WEBINAIRE: Knowledge Mobilization on youth-led suicide prevention

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young people in Canada and beyond(Kutcher & Szumilas, 2008). Many youth suicide prevention programs have been developed inresponse to this concerning trend, ranging in focus from school-based curriculum and awarenesscampaigns for all youth, to those that focus specifically on high-risk groups. Many of theseprograms are intended to strengthen protective factors, which are those that reduce the risk ofsuicide, such as social connectedness, self-esteem, ability to adapt to changing environments, andproblem-solving skills, to name but a few (Suicide Prevention Resource Centre [SPRC], 2011).However, the majority of these programs to date have been developed and delivered to youth,rather than by youth (Lindquist-Grantz, 2018).

A growing evidence base suggests that engaging youth as meaningful and active partners inprogram development helps to strengthen the protective factors mentioned above, for beingvalued contributors and decision makers is in and of itself empowering (Checkoway, 2011).Furthermore, the benefits of youth engagement reach beyond those youth involved in thedevelopment and implementation of suicide prevention initiatives, extending to the youth forwhom those programs serve. This is in part because youth are best positioned to respond to thecomplex realities of their peers (Chung-Do et al., 2011), and because youth are more likely toapproach a peer than an adult when experiencing thoughts of suicide (Together to Live, 2016).Of particular value to First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities are those youth-drivenprevention programs that leverage culture, language, and traditional practices. Suicide preventionprograms that are conceptualized, developed and prioritized by Indigenous communities,including youth, ensure that the programs are responsive to local cultural meanings, and adaptiveto local historical, community, and cultural practices (Wexler & Gone, 2012).

Wisdom to Action brought together youth, researchers, service providers, government officials,Elders and health care providers from coast to coast to coast in February 2018 in Vancouver tostart sharing what works in youth-led suicide prevention and to consider issues related toprograms and projects. This webinar will provide an overview of emergent research on youth-ledsuicide prevention and results from the W2A event. Participants will also learn about the work ofthe Embrace Life Council and We Matter.