(Waite Park MN-) Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Health are sponsoring workshops across Greater Minnesota focused on preventing suicide in ag communities. Titled safeTALK, the free-to-attend, half-day seminars focus on how to recognize signs of someone considering suicide and help.
Each seminar will be led by Glen Boomstrom, who is a retired U.S. Army chaplain trained in handling post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. Boomstrom will be using his experience to teach each workshop training people to use their senses to identify thoughts of suicide and how to engage—all in an interactive format.
“There is a lot of good someone can get out of a PowerPoint presentation, but we want to give people the opportunity to learn these skills and work through them,” Boomstrom said. “In working through it, we still believe face-to-face is best.”
Boomstrom hopes to see a diverse crowd at each stop. From bankers to seed dealers to veterinarians, the goal is to bring the skills that could prevent a suicide to a community. Farmers, specifically, are an independent group who may not seek out help, so it is imperative to have a variety of caring, observant eyes.
“Farmers don’t ask for help to fix their tractor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; they are going to come up with the solution on their own. But when it comes to severe crisis and depression where a solution is hard to find, they may get tunnel vision and not realize it,” he said.
The end goal of safeTALK is to help people observe the signs and feel comfortable asking someone if they are considering suicide. Boomstrom said the difficult-to-ask question is one that could prevent someone from taking his or her own life, so it is one that must be asked.
“We train people to not be afraid to be nosy. If you are wrong, it is not going to plant a seed about suicide [if they aren’t already considering it]. It shows you care and that you are open to talking more,” Boomstrom said.
safeTALK trainings run from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and take place on the following dates:
December 4, Waite Park (Quarry Center)
Register today at www.safetalk-agriculture.eventbrite.com.