Skills for Safer Living

What is Skills for Safer Living?

Skills for Safer Living (SfSL) is an evidence-based, suicide intervention program for youth considering suicide and their caregivers.

The group meets once a week for a 90-minute session for four weeks. In the sessions, youth learn to build skills and capacity to help keep themselves safe. Caregivers meet in a group that takes place at the same time. In addition to building capacity in youth, the program builds the same knowledge in families/caregivers. It intends to foster a feeling of support from and among caregivers in a situation that is scary, but not hopeless.

Each week the group will cover one of the four themes:

  • creating a climate of safety
  • building networks
  • identifying early warning signs
  • developing a safety plan

The sessions are led by a combination of two facilitators that include an allied health professional and/or a peer facilitator who has lived experience. The program introduces basic language, skills, and concepts to better understand the thoughts and feelings associated with suicide and strategies to mitigate them and keep the participant as safe as possible. By the end of the program, each participant will have developed a safety plan and skills for keeping themselves safe.

While it’s preferred that youth and their caregiver participate in the program, it is possible for caregivers to attend without their youth and for youth to attend without their caregiver.

Youth and young adult group members need to have an individual support person whom they see on a regular basis to work through some of their personal issues with and to “teach” what they are learning. The individual support person is someone who the young adult finds supportive and who is willing to help them as they go through the group process e.g. for some group members it has been a general practitioner, psychiatrist, counsellor, social worker, teacher, or an A.A. sponsor who was the most helpful during the process.

It cannot be a family member or friend.

Program Details

This program is for youth (age 15-24), and their parents/caregivers Both youth and parent/caregiver attendance is required. Youth and their parents/caregivers will attend separate but concurrent groups.

Upcoming Groups:

  • 2024 dates coming soon.

Please note, groups are held in person at the Distress Centre. Additional information provided upon registration, or by contacting

Please complete this form if you are interested in attending one of our Skills for Safer Living Groups. If you have a question about the group please contact