June 29, 2023

RACE Against Suicide: Empowering Gatekeepers in School to Prevent Tragedy

RACE Against Suicide: Empowering Gatekeepers to Safeguard Students’ Lives
University of Baguio's Center for Counseling and Student Development Leads Successful Workshop
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Suicide is a pressing global concern, and its impact on young people is particularly devastating. Recognizing the urgent need for prevention efforts in schools, the University of Baguio’s Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD), in collaboration with the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association Inc. (PGCA) and the Schools Division of Baguio City, recently organized a groundbreaking workshop titled “RACE Against Suicide: A Gatekeeper’s Training for Suicide Prevention in Schools.” Held from June 22-23 at the University of Baguio Centennial Hall, this event brought together educators, counselors, and mental health professionals to address this critical issue.

Under the guidance of Ms. Leny Estacio, RGC, LPT, the director of CCSD, the workshop was led by esteemed professionals in the field. Dr. Irene Alcantara, RGC, a special science teacher at the Philippine Science High School, and Jhimely Kiwas, RGC, an active guidance counselor, served as facilitators alongside Ms. Estacio. Their collective expertise ensured a comprehensive and insightful training experience for all participants.

On the first day of the workshop, attendees delved into the topics of suicidology, suicide, and their correlation with the school environment. The sessions shed light on the warning signs and risk factors associated with suicide among students, equipping the gatekeepers with the knowledge necessary to identify and intervene in critical situations. Participants engaged in open discussions, sharing their experiences and concerns, which fostered a sense of solidarity among the attendees.

The second day of the workshop focused on TeleMental Health, a growing field that offers innovative approaches to providing mental health support remotely. The discussions included specific insights into Telemental Health in Baguio City, highlighting the resources available and the potential for leveraging technology to enhance suicide prevention efforts. Additionally, participants received guidance on self-care strategies to mitigate burnout and stress commonly experienced by gatekeepers. The workshop concluded with an in-depth exploration of intervention techniques, referral protocols, and postvention strategies to support individuals affected by suicide.

The workshop benefitted from the invaluable contributions of co-facilitators Ms. Crispina Fuertes, Ms. Shiela Natalie Juyag, RPm, and Ms. Shena Ariola. Their expertise and commitment to mental health advocacy enhanced the quality of the training sessions and ensured a comprehensive learning experience for all attendees.

The collaborative effort between the University of Baguio, PGCA, and the Schools Division of Baguio City reflects the shared commitment to prioritizing the mental health and well-being of students. By equipping educators and counselors with the necessary knowledge and skills, this workshop has paved the way for improved suicide prevention measures within educational institutions.

The impact of the “RACE Against Suicide” workshop will extend far beyond its two-day duration. Armed with newfound knowledge and resources, the gatekeepers who participated in this training are now better equipped to create a safe and supportive environment for students facing mental health challenges. The collaborative spirit fostered during the workshop will continue to inspire ongoing efforts in Baguio City and beyond to address suicide prevention comprehensively.

As the University of Baguio, PGCA, and the Schools Division of Baguio City take the lead in this critical initiative, it is hoped that other educational institutions will follow suit. By recognizing the importance of gatekeeper training and investing in mental health support, we can collectively work towards reducing the prevalence of suicide and creating a brighter future for the youth in our communities.

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