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Home › Resources › Roots of Hope Promising Practice Exchange Case Studies – Spotlight on Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan

Roots of Hope Promising Practice Exchange Case Studies – Spotlight on Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan


While the City of Meadow Lake has a population of around 5,400, our Roots of Hope project serves the rural residents of 11 surrounding communities. Our priority population is youth, although the community also recognizes the need to reach out to men, who are role models for our youth.

Meadow Lake and area project partners include:

  • Saskatchewan Health Authority
  • Meadow Lake Tribal Council


An active community advisory network has developed, whose members offer many areas of expertise. The meetings are well attended by representatives from a number of the affiliated communities. When unable to attend, they receive meeting minutes and interact with our Roots of Hope coordinator on their community’s behalf.

One unexpected outcome of our project is the networking it has facilitated between agencies (sometimes in different communities) that have not worked together before.


Public Awareness: The main way our Roots of Hope work has impacted public awareness about suicide prevention is through the staff capacity and program resources it provides. A key focus has been educating our communities on the factors that contribute to suicide risk, and how individuals can help prevent suicide, both in professional and private contexts. For example, we used radio ads, awareness walks, and other events to highlight the important roles of teachers, faith leaders, and youth leaders as well as neighbours, friends, and family members. At the same time, we also recognize the need to augment public awareness activities with training. People must learn how to identify mental health-related distress and know how to help someone (in compassionate and knowledgeable ways), while allowing natural supports (e.g., friends, family, and non‑mental health professionals) to contribute to the prevention of suicide attempts and suicides.

Training and Networks: Roots of Hope project team gives staff the time and resources tooffer training suited to the needs and capacity of the community;for example, the project coordinator who is trained to deliverMental Health First Aid. One goal of our community action planwas to train a variety of primary health care staff and communitymembers to better recognize the signs of mental health concernsor distress, to make earlier intervention possible. Staff capacity andprogram resources have also made it easier to subsidize trainingcosts, which allows community members to attend that do not haveemployers paying their registration costs. As well, after making aneffort to think creatively about who individuals in distress mightencounter in the community, we have offered suicide awarenesstraining to a wide range of people. These include faith leaders;hairdressers; youth and youth workers; staff members workingin mental health or addiction, primary health care, day care, anddetox centres; community leaders; and members of the public.

Means Restriction: After examining emergency room (ER) stats that included thedrug classes used in suicide attempts, a Roots of Hope researcherdeveloped a survey to help mental health and addiction intakeworkers understand where the drugs used in suicide attemptswere obtained. Often, the medication belonged to someone elseor were non-prescription medications such as acetaminophenand ibuprofen. We also learned that families who were seeking tokeep drugs out of the hands of youth were storing them in theircars and being exposed to extreme temperatures.

To restrict access to medication as a means of suicide, wedeveloped a medication lockbox initiative. The lockbox uses arepurposed, lockable, marine dry box that is cheap and readilyavailable. Stickers on the outside remind people that “TalkingCan Help” and encourage them to call the province’s 811 health lineif they are experiencing mental or physical health concerns. Otherstickers, outside and inside the box, provide emergency numbers,including suicide helplines and poison control.

The project started through a partnership with a parenting organization that gave a lockbox to each family they served during child injury prevention modules. Clinical mental health and addiction staff, ER staff, and others have since been using the box and the information it contains as a conversation starter to provide means safety education with families. Harm reduction and victim services are now starting to use the boxes as well. Our lockbox also includes the Suicide Safer Home infographic, adapted by the MHCC, which provides information about other areas in the home where suicide means may be available, so these too can be addressed by families and caregivers.

Specialized Supports:  MHCC-sponsored training increased our Roots of Hopecoordinator’s understanding of effective postvention and knowledgesharing practices. This training was timely and helpful. For example,using a postvention lens when providing support to workplaces,schools, and sports teams can encourage them to develop suicide relatedpolicy before such an event occurs. Among the areas suchpolicies could address include how managers should respond to asuicide death of an employee (or employee family member), howlong memorials (which may spring up spontaneously) should remainon site, and what to do with items that may accumulate as part ofthe memorial.

Our project staff members have also focused on specialized support initiatives. These include work with managers and mental health and addiction teams seeking to improve their provision of timely, effective responses and supports to communities or organizations in crisis (while reducing the negative impacts on staff members who respond to crises or critical incidents).

Research: Our project’s evaluations helped us learn whether our efforts were having an impact and what elements the community felt were beneficial. In turn, such research allowed us to build from one project component to the next and be confident that the community would be engaged. For example, our evaluation of radio ads showed that the community was interested in having a comedian with mental health-related material perform. The same research support behind our lockbox initiative was also important for our radio ad campaign evaluation. Overall, such support has been a key factor in helping our project move forward based on feedback from community members and professionals.

Read all Roots of Hope Case Studies

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