Sending out an SOS

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Contributor

In maritime terms, the acronym “SOS” stands for Save Our Souls, and was meant as the last desperate plea from sailors seeking assistance as their ship went down. It seems a fitting acronym for the local “SOS” organization, although in this case the letters stand for “Some Other Solutions”.

“Some Other Solutions Society for Crisis Prevention (SOS) was established in 1986 in order to house the provincially funded Suicide Prevention Program and raise awareness in the community at that time around Mental Health and Suicide. Since 1986, SOS has continued to grow to include programs that support individuals and families in a number of ways,” says Alie Warnes, SOS Operations Director.

“Because we understand that crisis happens to everyone, SOS’s objective is to ensure no-one in our community suffers alone. We offer supportive strategies based on best practices and always take into account the individuals unique background, needs, and strengths,” said Warnes.

Warnes elaborates: “Because we understand that crisis happens to everyone, SOS’s objective is to ensure no-one in our community suffers alone. We offer supportive strategies based on best practices and always take into account the individuals unique background, needs, and strengths. All of our programs and services are aimed at helping the individual cope with crisis in ways that reduce the negative psychological, physiological and behavioural effects of trauma on that person and his or her environment. The purpose of crisis prevention/intervention/postvention is to meet a person in their current situation, thus reducing chronic exposure to stress or trauma and allowing them to reach their potential in life.”

And the work SOS does is remarkable. The Crisis Line Program statistics from January – August 2015 show 536 total calls, 46 of which were related to suicide. Interventions resulted in the saving of 13 lives. And 220 of the calls were mental health- related, 170 were related to relationship issues and 60 were related to grief and loss, while 136 were related to abuse.

Warnes says the agency continues to develop and has set some key future goals: “Moving forward, SOS will focus on a few key goals: Raising awareness of SOS programs and services through a comprehensive marketing plan that will let the public (permanent and non-permanent residents) know that Fort McMurray has a 24 hour crisis line.”

She also explains the importance of knowing the numbers to call for help.
“We want this number (780-743-HELP) to be as known as 911 as it is a crucial service, especially to individuals who many not have family or friends here, or may not want to feel like a burden to people they know. We also want to reach the public through a variety of media and community events to raise awareness and educate individuals around: suicide prevention and intervention skills; and an understanding of the impact of grief and how to find hope, healing and well-being.”

Warnes says they are seeking volunteers to recruit for the crisis line, some-thing essential to have in the community.

“We want to build our volunteer capacity through recruiting new volunteers from different backgrounds who want to contribute to their community; provide the volunteers extensive crisis line training, and support them in their commitment to the 24 hour crisis line.”

“We want to build our volunteer capacity through recruiting new volunteers from different backgrounds who want to contribute to their community; provide the volunteers extensive crisis line training, and support them in their commitment to the 24 hour crisis line.”

SOS – the letters may stand for different words, but the end result is clearly the same: saving souls in distress, just like those of the sailors on sinking ships long ago.

– Connect Weekly –