Patricia Rahana, a researcher from Concordia University, has started work on a study that will look at a number of factors surrounding mental health in Shuswap communities. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm chosen for suicide prevention study

City stood out for efforts already being undertaken in the community

A Montreal researcher has chosen Salmon Arm to conduct a community-focused suicide prevention study due to the city’s grassroots mental health awareness initiatives.

Patricia Ranahan, a researcher from Concordia University started a six month-long study earlier this week that will look at a number of factors surrounding mental health in Shuswap communities. The study, in collaboration with the CMHA, will take into account actions and efforts people are taking towards suicide prevention and what makes communities livable and life promoting.

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Ranahan was tipped off to the idea for the study after following the three-year implementation of a suicide prevention training program across the province between 2015-2018. The Ministry of Health awarded the Canadian Mental Health Authority (CMHA) B.C. Division to coordinate one of two workshops, safeTALK and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) throughout the province. While observing in a researcher capacity, Ranahan saw what was happening on a local level. She saw related workshops were not always well-attended and sometimes cancelled due to low enrolment. Salmon Arm also suffered from this but Ranahan noticed other initiatives addressing mental health were being started in the area. She received an internal grant from her university to do a follow-up community case study and chose to conduct her study in the Shuswap division of the CMHA Revelstoke-Shuswap.

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“Salmon Arm in particular stood out because it as a community seemed to ask different questions and then take action,” Ranahan said. “Some of the actions we heard about in that original project were the Lantern Walk that happens on world suicide prevention day.”

Ranahan will be conducting her study largely through confidential interviews with people in the community. The interviews of 45 minutes to an hour, can be done in person or over the phone. With 15 interviewees lined up so far, Ranahan hopes to capture a wide range of perspectives – from people who have had personal experiences with suicide, to teachers to nurses.

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Questions the study looks to answer include how residents see suicide prevention efforts happening in the community, when the community responds in an effective way, how organizations respond to distress and promote well-being and gaps where someone experiencing distress could fall into and not receive the help they need.

If you wish to be included in the study, you can contact Patricia Ranahan at


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