July 8, 2020 - Vancouver, B.C. - Khari Jones, head coach of the Montreal Alouettes, is speaking out about the importance of suicide prevention training, both on and off the field. As players, their families and fans deal with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 football season, Jones says it’s critical for Canadians to recognize the signs of someone who may be struggling and learn the skills to help keep them safe.
Jones has become an ambassador for Calgary-based LivingWorks, supporting their efforts to create a world free from suicide loss.
“Anyone can help save a life,” says Jones, a former CFL quarterback and current head coach of the Montreal Alouettes. “Let’s face it, these are difficult times. I hear from players almost every day who are struggling with the uncertainty of it all. But this isn’t just about the players, this is about everyone.”
Jones, who resides in Surrey, BC in the extended off-season, has a personal connection to the issue of suicide - over the years, he’s had several players struggle with suicidal thoughts as well as a close family member.
“Simply by being aware of the risks for suicide, or recognizing that a friend or family member doesn’t seem to be their usual self is an important first step to helping them get help. We’ve got to eliminate the stigma that is associated with talking about our own mental health – especially among men – and be willing to start a difficult conversation.”
A recent survey from the Canadian Mental Health Association and researchers at UBC found that during the height of the pandemic in May, 1 in 20 Canadians (6%) had recently experienced thoughts or feelings of suicide. Those thoughts were more common in high risk groups including those with diagnosed mental illness, Indigenous people and members of the LGBTQ community.
Jones commends the CFLPA’s recent efforts to address mental health issues among players, but says there’s still a lot of fear and reluctance to talk about suicide openly, in the football community and beyond.
LivingWorks, a global leader in suicide prevention training, has launched an online program to provide entry-level skills training for anyone who wants to be able to identify and support others at risk of suicide. LivingWorks Start is a 90-minute evidence-based program that uses real-life scenarios and interaction to teach participants how to tune-in to cues that might indicate thoughts of suicide and connect the at-risk individual to those with more advanced levels of training.
As a LivingWorks ambassador, Khari will be sharing his perspective through blog and social media posts, as well as lending his voice to encourage others to get trained in suicide prevention. Just like any other skill, whether it’s throwing a football or learning CPR, developing skills requires practice, says Jones, and LivingWorks Start encourages that practice through dynamic simulations and interactive video.
“We are thrilled to have Khari on board,” stated LivingWorks President, Rick Trimp. “We know that his leadership among not only CFL players, fans and the legion of others who look up to him will help extend the message that everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention.”
Khari Jones and Rick Trimp are available for interviews either by phone or Zoom.
LivingWorks is the world’s leading provider of suicide prevention solutions. It has more than 35 years of history and expertise and has trained 2.3 million people worldwide. Its programs have been evaluated in more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, and its ASIST and safeTALK programs are recognized best practices, used by crisis hotlines throughout the world.
Lisa Rushka, APR
Media Relations, LivingWorks