Year: 2018 Source: Res Medica. (2017). 24(1): 4-16. SIEC No: 20180544

Background: SafeTALK is a half-day gatekeeper training program on recognizing persons at risk for suicide and intervening appropriately. Primary care clinicians have been increasingly targeted for suicide intervention training; however, evidence surrounding the effectiveness of safeTALK is lacking, particularly among medical learners. The aim of this study was to assess whether suicide literacy and intervention skills were enhanced by safeTALK training among medical learners.

Methods: Undergraduate medical students from an Ontario university were invited to complete an online survey regardless if they had taken safeTALK training as part of their curriculum. Suicide literacy was measured with the Literacy of Suicide Scale (LOSS) and intervention skills were measured with the Suicide Intervention Response Inventory (SIRI).

Results: The majority believed that suicide risk assessment training was very important to undergraduate medical education. Although limitations were noted, this study did not demonstrate that safeTALK training significantly improved medical students’ suicide literacy levels or suicide intervention skills.

Conclusions: A more comprehensive program including the epidemiology of suicide and mental health disorders in addition to intervention skills is recommended to ensure medical learners are equipped to dispel the stigmas surrounding suicide and offer the appropriate care and follow up to their patients in future practice.