Delivering suicide prevention support for seafarers through LivingWorks SafeTALK program

3rd May 2023
The Mission to Seafarers (MtS) has been at the forefront of providing seafarers with essential support and care for over 160 years.

As an organisation that deeply cares about the welfare of seafarers, MtS recognised the need for a comprehensive suicide prevention program, and in 2021, MtS adopted LivingWorks SafeTALK course, and the results have been nothing short of impressive.

The SafeTALK course has been instrumental in promoting the welfare of seafarers and training Port Chaplains and volunteers as Suicide Alert Helpers. The course confronts the reasons why some people miss, dismiss, or avoid talking about suicide, empowering them to take action using the TALK steps – Tell, Ask, Listen, and KeepSafe. Suicide Alert Helpers are trained to recognise people with thoughts of suicide and connect them to a suicide first aid resource.

In 2021, MtS qualified its Programme Manager, Thomas O’Hare, as a LivingWorks SafeTALK trainer and developed a maritime-specific SafeTALK training course, resulting in significant progress and direct achievements.

Over the course of 2022, 14 SafeTALK workshops were delivered by Thomas, training 186 people across 26 organisations. An overwhelming 97% of participants were willing to refer others to attend the course, which is a remarkable achievement considering the sensitivity of the topic. The workshops have helped participants feel well-prepared to talk directly and openly about suicidal thoughts. After every workshop, at least two participants personally requested follow-up sessions, either in SafeTALK or the two-day ASIST course.

MtS has also trained 3 Port Chaplains and a Welfare Officer as Suicide First Aiders in the UK and the Philippines. In 2023, MtS plan to train 15 Port Chaplains and volunteers in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), demonstrating our commitment to providing comprehensive suicide prevention support to seafarers.

The program’s success is evident from the numbers; in Q1 2023, MtS trained 16 Suicide Alert Helpers, representing five welfare organisations, including MtS, Stella Maris, and the Deutsch Seamans Mission. In addition, 10 Suicide First Aiders were trained, including Port Chaplains based in Scotland, England, and the Netherlands. The SafeTALK program has been implemented across nine UK ports and has received funding for a further four ASIST courses and six SafeTALK courses in 2023.

As a SafeTALK trainer, Thomas can deliver workshops while visiting other MtS programs worldwide, as demonstrated in the Philippines and Rotterdam, where they delivered SafeTALK courses to 33 and 16 participants, respectively. The program’s success has also led to a partnership with the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, who donate to the SafeTALK program in return for workshops.

The Mission to Seafarers has an unwavering commitment to improving the welfare of thousands of seafarers through the SafeTALK program. The efforts of those involved have yielded tangible results and plans to expand on and continue delivering this service is a testament to our dedication to the cause. The SafeTALK program is an invaluable asset to the welfare of seafarers, long-term, the programme and trainers could reach hundreds of thousands of seafarers.

The Mission to Seafarers has been shortlisted as a finalist for SAFETY4SEA’s Crew Welfare Organisation Award, recognising our work in implementing LivingWorks comprehensive suicide prevention program. With your support, we can continue our mission to improve the welfare of seafarers worldwide. Cast your vote here.


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