Episode 188 - Dr. Rebecca Mirick: "I Think I Want to Die...": Training Practitioners to Work with People Considering Suicide

Monday, March 28, 2016, 7:54:53 AM

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The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year. Social workers often find themselves working in settings where suicide and parasuicidal behavior are of ongoing and significant concern and, therefore, are in need of specialized skills to address these potentially life-threatening situations. So, does social work education provide social workers with the resources needed to feel confident in addressing suicidal intentions? Have the response protocols in agencies that train and employ social workers kept pace with advances in dealing with suicidal behavior? In this episode, Dr. Rebecca Mirick shares her work developing a suicide intervention training program and the follow-up research she conducted to determine its impact on knowledge and confidence of those receiving the training.

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Average Rating: 4.7 stars (15 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  very informative., Sunday, February 14, 2021

By Benjamin Z :

This podcast is very informative and provides insight into the suicide prevention, trainings, and the important role research plays in evaluating out professional work and the interventions we utilize. While listening to the podcast, it brought up how practitioners can be reactive to individuals to experience suicidality. As a student preparing for social work practice this gave insight into some of my own reactivity and the ability to normalize it as something that will occur within the profession. The reactivity is something that Dr. Mirick discusses and is often times something left out of continuing education trainings and her decision to add this to the training is unique. The fact that this aspect is boldly addressed in the training is beneficial to anyone within the field, new practitioners, and those who are seek information not as professionals. It most certainly can impact and prepare individuals to handle highly emotional situations.

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Average Rating: 5stars  i would definitely take this training if offered to me, Sunday, February 07, 2021

By social work masters student :

I believe crisis intervention training like this one can really have a great impact on the way mental health professionals feel about the subject of suicide. This matter is scary, and overlooked but so important. I like the aspect of the training program where the class is able to learn ways to manage their reactions when talking to someone who wants to hurt themselves. This part stood out to me because I can become emotional when listening to someone else talk about a serious issue like self-harm or suicide. I would be interested in taking a program where this training is offered, as we are not directly taught how to cope with our own emotions in a Master’s program. It is important for a professional in these circumstances to remain strong for their client. I think this training would not only be beneficial for social workers, but for front-line responders like police and paramedics. Thank you for your work, Dr. Mirick.

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Average Rating: 5stars  important conversations, Monday, February 17, 2020

By Anonymous :

I really enjoyed this podcast because it brought attention to the fear and anxiety that comes with speaking about suicide. The worry that comes from providers, instructors, and supervisors when it is time to respond to an issue revolving this topic can often get in the way of us handling situations. As the podcast mentioned, there is a lot of research coming out in this field and I think that we have to be able to incorporate that research into what we are doing and we can’t fully incorporate new information if we can’t learn to become more confident about the situations going on today. If we can’t learn to be more confident in speaking and asking about certain topics how are we going to continue to go forward into new trainings and facilitations.

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Average Rating: 5stars  general thoughts , Sunday, February 09, 2020

By Nicholas M :

I personally felt this was a great podcast. I have thought deeply about this topic and agree with a lot of the statements Dr. Mirick said. I especially agree with the way the training was discussed. Confidence when dealing with an individual with suicidal ideations can really be one of the most important parts of working with clients with these ideations or behaviors. It is a difficult conversation to have. I do wish the podcast went into more detail about the modules and training as I was hoping for a little information to help strengthen my personal level of confidence as well. I am hoping to be lucky enough to take this class in the future.

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Average Rating: 4stars  training practitioners to work with people considering suicide, Monday, February 11, 2019

By Melina C. :

I thought this was an interesting podcast. I liked how Dr. Rebecca Mirick spoke about the training and how it could help practitioners. I do wish that the podcast included what types of things would be covered in the training. I think that would be helpful. Overall I enjoyed the podcast.

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Average Rating: 4stars  ubssw student, Thursday, January 31, 2019

By Anonymous :

The entirety of this podcast displayed an interesting take on suicide prevention. Dr. Rebecca Mirick brought up several points throughout this podcast that I had never considered before. For starters, I liked that the training focuses on increasing the confidence of mental health providers. Dr. Mirick emphasized that it is not easy to talk about suicide and sometimes professionals will just refer a client to crisis intervention or the emergency room to deal with the situation. However, if we can provide mental health professionals with the proper training on this topic, then they can gain the ability and confidence to start asking directly about suicide and learn how to address the problem themselves. I really liked how Dr. Mirick brought up the idea of managing the reactions of mental health providers in regards to conversations about suicide. She notices the significance of a simple reaction and how it is important to think about what potential message you are giving to your client when you react a certain way. Understanding how to appropriately react in these situations and knowing how to approach a client who has suicidal ideations is critical to making your client feel safe and gives room for a stronger relationship to be built.

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Average Rating: 5stars  sw521 - podcast review, Saturday, April 28, 2018

By Mike A. :

First and foremost, I feel it necessary to say that Dr. Charles Simms is an excellent host, and has a voice absolutely designed for narrating podcasts! I also really enjoyed the emphasis placed on post-vention, because I think for many of the clients we see this tends to be an ongoing struggle, so checking-in with them is absolutely essential. One thing that jumped out at me though was the fluidity of the suicide intervention training; it seems to be ever-growing and ever-changing in the knowledge presented which is utterly amazing, but left me wondering what the quote-unquote requirements would be for a clinician who attends one of these trainings, and doesn’t have any intention about participating in subsequent trainings. Dr. Mirick certainly discussed the importance of being up-to-date on the ever changing knowledge, but I was curious as to what types of motivators/incentives would encourage older practicing social work clinicians into repeatedly attending these meetings if they feel comfortable in their skill-sets already? Aside from that, I thought the podcast was well structured, Carissa Uschold’s questions were thoughtful and engaging, and Dr. Mirick did a wonderful job answering each question thoroughly.

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Average Rating: 5stars  an important topic, Sunday, February 11, 2018

By Kelly Mercer :

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the training that Dr. Mirick and her colleagues are offering regarding the topic of suicide prevention and postvention. In particular, I believe that the issue of postvention is extremely important when discussing the topic of suicide, and something that often does not get much attention, particularly in schools. I have worked with a number of high school students at my field placement who have attempted or had thoughts of committing suicide, and I have noticed that it takes a toll not only on them and their families, but for their friends and fellow students as well. I believe a training similar to Dr. Merick's would be a fantastic resource in our school for the interns, social workers, teachers, and other staff. I was pleased to hear that many of those that attended her training were not specifically in the field of mental health, and I hope that the trend of those in other fields taking an active role in learning about suicidality continues to grow as trainings like these become more available. I thought that this podcast was very enlightening, and taught me about some particular issues relating to suicide that I was not aware of, particularly the prevalence of outdated trainings among professionals. This podcast also gave me some insight on how to work with clients who may be indicating suicidal thoughts without letting my own anxiety or discomfort get in the way. Overall, I felt that this was a very informative podcast, and definitely gave me insight on what tools or trainings may be important for me if I choose to work in the field of mental health.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review - sw 521 , Thursday, February 01, 2018

By Tess Vicik :

In this podcast, Dr. Rebecca Mirick opens up a conversation about suicide and our feelings as social workers about working with it in a very helpful way. Dr. Mirick explains a suicidality training she has created and her goals of it being accessible and affordable for many people in the community. For all people, this is an extremely difficult topic to address, however as social workers it is imperative that we are able to have effective conversations about it with our clients. The podcast brought an awareness within myself, that our own feelings and anxieties about the topic may lead us to refer these clients out. This in turn has the potential to make these clients more likely to keep these types of feelings private hindering them from receiving real help, all simply due to a lack of confidence in dealing with such a delicate topic on our part. I can identify with lacking confidence in this topic. Even though I have taken a Question, Persuade, Refer: Suicidality Training in one of my undergraduate courses at the University at Buffalo and have a good grasp of knowledge in what one should do, having the confidence in myself to be able to apply the information is a different story. Dr. Mirick talks about how in her post training assessments she focuses not only on the increase of knowledge, but also on the confidence that practitioners leave the training with. I believe this is something unique about her approach and her implementation of the training. It is the crucial piece that links knowing what to do, and the action of truly translating this knowledge into practice for the benefit of our clients. Overall, this podcast was extremely informative and has reminded me of the importance the understanding of assessment and interventions of suicidality can be. I am looking forward to hear about the continuations of Dr. Mirick’s research.

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Average Rating: 5stars  podcast review (sw 521), Sunday, February 12, 2017

By Amanda A. :

I thought that this podcast discussion with Dr. Rebecca Mirick was very informative and insightful for not only current social work students, but for practitioners who are already in the field. Personally, I have not been exposed to research or have any direct experience working with individuals who are in need of suicide assessments, so I learned some useful information from Dr. Mirick's research. I am currently a foundation year social work student in my first field placement setting in an agency where adolescents have either attempted suicide or they have suicidal ideations. I do not have a great deal of direct client interaction, but I have access to each individual’s file where I can learn of any attempts of suicide that may have occurred. I believe the practitioners at my agency could benefit from Dr. Mirick's training program on suicide and on conducting risk assessments with youth since there is a high population of youth who have either attempted suicide or who have thought about doing so. My supervisor informed me that the local paper would be interviewing him on youth suicide in the next week or so, and now that I have watched this podcast, I think that it would be beneficial if he became informed on this useful training so he may be able to better educate the therapists on campus when they are dealing with the topic of youth suicide. I also thought that Dr. Mirick's training program was very detailed due to conducting pre and posttest measures in order to determine how successful practitioners would be at implementing this program with clients.

As a result of learning about this very interesting training program, I look forward to learning more about suicide among different populations of individuals, and about how agencies can utilize various assessment tools versus referring to crisis centers and/or emergency rooms in the event of a suicide attempt. Thank you for a great podcast!

Amanda A.

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Average Rating: 5stars  a needed training for all in this field, Saturday, February 11, 2017

By Britt Z :

What an insightful and useful podcast. Thank you for addressing a topic that is often very scary, intimidating and common in the field of social work. As someone who has worked in the human service field for nearly ten years, this is a sensitive subject that sadly comes up more frequently than we may think. As a foundation year student, I have yet to be educated on any form of suicide intervention/lethality assessments through UB yet. I was not formally trained at any agency I have worked at, either, so for me this was a topic that I had to do a lot of my own research and education on.
I currently am employed in a detox and crisis stabilization facility and lethality and suicidal ideations are things that come up often. I know that many of our medical and support staff have not been trained in this topic and often seek out myself or a mental health counselor on-site if a client is discussing suicidal ideations or intent. I think the overall lack of training is detrimental to many of the clients and individuals we work with. I also think that something like a universal training that all people working in the human service field must complete would be beneficial. This could be something similar to the mandated reporter training that everyone is required to take and complete.
I found it interesting that Dr. Mirick discussed how in the trainings that they held to educate people on the topic, some of the people attending were not in the mental health field and were there to just learn more about it in general. I think this speaks to the fact that it is such a widely impactful occurrence and that it really leaves impressions on so many of us. It is also inspiring to know that people who are not just employed in a field where this can be a common and unfortunate occurrence are interested in learning how they can help. Thank you for shedding light on a taboo topic and providing significant research to back it up.

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Average Rating: 4stars  review (ssw 521), Sunday, February 05, 2017

By Emily :

As someone who is very early in my social work career, this topic has been very concerning for me-- not only because of how prevalent suicide is in our society today, but how well I will handle suicidal clients. This podcast was informative regarding the trainings being made available to help move me towards better competencies in helping suicidal clients. It was interesting to hear the research results about how well the trainings were working for different groups of people, and helpful to know that multiple training attendances will really make a difference in my social work career. I also loved hearing that Dr. Mirick had a lot of insight from her own students, who found the trainings extremely helpful because of their lack of confidence when just starting off in the clinical social work field. It was comforting to know that I am not the only one starting from the ground up, and that there are many resources out there to improve my skills in this area. I do wish that this would have talked in more detail about how to specifically work with suicidal clients, but overall it was a good podcast!

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Average Rating: 5stars  informative podcast!, Sunday, February 05, 2017

By DAC89 :

This was an extremely informative podcast – thank you! Dr. Rebecca Mirick discusses a suicide assessment and intervention training she has developed. Dr. Mirick does a good job of reviewing why they are doing this training, what the training includes, who benefits and follows up with an assessment of its effectiveness.
This seems like a very important training for all individuals who serve some sort of function in the field of mental health. The podcast was especially valuable to me as an inexperienced MSW student in his foundation year. Suicide is admittedly a scary thought and one of the worst things I can imagine happening to one of my clients. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in this fear and to have an awareness of resources available to help increase my comfort and competence.
I have two major takeaways from this podcast. First of all, it is important for clinicians to manage their own reactions and emotions. It is imperative to not allow our personal feelings or discomfort to get in the way of providing appropriate care, especially with something as sensitive as suicide. Additionally, the podcast raised an awareness of managing the therapeutic relationship with a client. Our gut reaction may be to refer a suicidal client to crisis services or someone “more qualified” but we need to remember this has an impact on our relationship with the client. Being too quick to outsource might damage our ability to work with the client in the future.
Overall, this was an informative podcast and a worthwhile listen!

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Average Rating: 5stars  suicide prevention training, Sunday, February 05, 2017

By Robin Steron :

In this podcast, Dr. Rebecca Mirick describes the Suicide Assessment and Intervention Training (SAIT), a suicide intervention training program that she co-developed, and the follow-up research she has done on how trainees benefited from taking the training. As a Foundation Year Social Work student, I found this podcast to be helpful and informative. I am currently in my first field placement, in a community mental health clinic. Many of the clients at the clinic have experienced suicidal ideation, and some have attempted suicide in the past. I have felt nervous and unsure about assessing for suicidality, and this podcast reassured me that I am not alone. Dr. Mirick’s training program was developed to help practitioners to feel more confident in assessing their clients. Dr. Mirick mentions that some social work students who have participated in the training have then brought the information they learned back to their field placement agencies.
The SAIT program is updated often to reflect current research on best practices for suicide prevention. It is also affordable and accessible. The research Dr. Mirick has done on the efficacy of this training strongly suggests that training participants report feeling more confident in assessing for suicidality. After listening to the podcast I am inspired to learn more about this program, and to see if it is ever offered by my agency or in my community. If it is not yet available here, I plan to do what I can to bring this information to my agency and my community in the future.

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Average Rating: 4stars  very helpful information, Saturday, February 04, 2017

By ajvb :

Thank you for a very informative Podcast. I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about what I am lacking in terms of skills to address suicidality - I think that sometimes we don't know what it is that we don't know until we are exposed to more specific information. Being more aware of how to augment my current knowledge in this area will assist me to pursue effective training opportunities. This also provided me with some insight as to the lack of confidence that is commonly felt by those working in the field. This podcast will help me to be aware of my own strengths and limitations in this area, as well as potential strengths and limitations of those that I work with in an agency setting. I believe there would be great value in having an open dialogue within a team regarding each members' level of comfort with suicidality, in an effort to best support one another.

As an MSW student, I appreciated that the concern about being in field placement and realizing that the most up to date strategies are not being used, was mentioned. I think this is a common struggle for many students and recent grads, where they don't believe they have to authority or clout to offer suggestions of this nature.

The most powerful take-away from this Podcast was the point made about referring out to crisis intervention or an emergency room too quickly, and causing harm to the therapeutic relationship. For me, this point, added with the safety concerns that accompany suicidality, created a sense of urgency regarding obtaining adequate training to support suicidal clients. I now have a better understanding of the need to be knowledgeable and skilled in suicide assessment and risk formulation. Thank you for the valuable perspective and insight.

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