Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about LivingWorks, our mission and our programs.

If you have a question that isn't addressed here, please contact us and we'll be glad to assist you.

LivingWorks was incorporated in 1991, and our founders considered their objectives and circumstances very carefully before deciding to organize as a private social enterprise corporation. The foremost goal of LivingWorks has always been to save lives from suicide through effective intervention skills training. The founders determined a private structure would be the best way to accomplish this in the long term, for a number of reasons.

First, the founders had all worked extensively with non-profit organizations. One issue they identified with non-profit structures was a potentially unsteady stream of funding. In the early 1990s, grants available for suicide prevention initiatives were still relatively few and far between, and LivingWorks needed to be able to provide on-demand training to interested customers in order to effectively disseminate skills. A private model ensured that high-quality training was consistently available regardless of the funding climate and enabled sustainable, predictable growth in the years to come.

Second, a private structure facilitated continuous growth by enabling profits to be reinvested in development activities such as creating new programs, updating existing material, hiring additional staff, and disseminating workshops worldwide. As a private organization, our leaders are able to maximize the impact of this reinvestment based on their expertise in suicide prevention.

Third, in order to serve the needs of diverse countries and communities, the founders recognized that they needed a high level of autonomy and independence. A private model enabled LivingWorks to develop numerous partnerships and collaborations without restrictions or limitations. The result was integration with a broad network of organizations in a way that allowed us to meet the individual needs of each one.

LivingWorks continues to follow these principles today. Through careful guidance and stewardship, the company has gone from a small start-up to a world-leading organization with over 7,500 trainers and a range of programs to meet diverse needs. The company is a social enterprise dedicated to advancing the public good while ensuring sustainability through effective business practices and financial management.

As a private company, LivingWorks receives no subsidies, grants, or tax deductions. All of our operations—including T4Ts, quality control, administration, materials printing, program design, and global development—are funded from general revenues and substantial reinvestment of earnings. Our first priority is, and always will be, our mission to help save lives from suicide.

Continuing education forms an important role in developing practitioner competency and is an essential requirement for maintaining registration in most professions. LivingWorks programs can contributed to meeting professional development requirements in many fields. For more information visit our Continuing Professional Development resource page.

Suicide prevention programs tend to focus on either awareness or skills training. Both are important and can contribute to a community's suicide safety.



Awareness programs, like LivingWorks' esuicideTALK, can serve a number of purposes. These presentations are for people interested in learning more about suicide and what can be done to help those at risk. They are designed to stimulate or build on concern about suicide. They often provide basic information about signs of suicide risk along with initial helping steps. Some address the needs of those bereaved by suicide. Sometimes, they discuss broader issues about building more supportive suicide-aware networks in communities, schools, and workplaces.

Awareness programs usually provide basic information but do not offer opportunities to develop suicide intervention skills. Some find that attending an awareness presentation is sufficient for their needs and interest, while others choose to become more involved and recognize that they will need more skills to do this effectively. 

Awareness presentations are shorter and aimed at the large number of persons who are sensitized to the problem of suicide. The goal is that members of the audience will identify ways to help, supporting suicide prevention and life-assisting programs in their communities while becoming more willing to refer persons at risk to helpers with intervention skills. Most awareness program audiences will recognize that there is more to learn before they feel willing, ready, and able to intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide.

Skills training

Crisis intervention skills training programs, like LivingWorks' ASIST, equip people to identify and respond to someone at immediate risk of suicide. Just as CPR skills make physical first aid possible, training in suicide intervention develops the skills to offer knowledgeable, competent suicide first aid. These programs also typically explore options for linking people with resources for ongoing help. They should also address caregiver attitudes towards suicide since these personal elements can affect the willingness and effectiveness of an intervention.

Skills training programs are longer and are often aimed at people in positions of trust. Depending on the community or organization, these might include chaplains, counselors, mental health professionals, social workers, teachers, and wellness managers—among many others. They are often the ones others turn to in times of difficulty, and in intervention skills programs, they are typically called caregivers or gatekeepers.

Intervention training programs are skills-based and provide a solid foundation for intervention and follow-up with someone at risk. Those participating in a suicide intervention skills workshop should leave feeling willing, ready, and able to intervene and prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Intervention skills training participants often feel more empowered to take a leadership role in suicide prevention and life-assisting programs in their communities.

Working together to prevent suicide

In the end, both awareness and intervention skills are essential. Every community needs people who support suicide prevention as well as caregivers who are prepared to intervene. LivingWorks offers a variety of programs in each category. Together, they can contribute to a robust suicide prevention framework for any community.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes. Because communities are so diverse, there is no “one size fits all” solution for suicide awareness, prevention, and intervention. This is why LivingWorks offers a range of programs with adaptable components to meet specific needs.

For some communities, even having one or two suicide intervention caregivers can make a big difference as long as they are widely recognized as people who can help. The more caregivers or alert helpers who are trained, the better—and the more likely that someone at risk of suicide can get timely, life-saving help.

Suicide intervention, alertness, and awareness all have a part to play in making a community or organization safer from suicide. To learn more about the ways you or your organization can get involved, please visit our Programs page.

If you aren’t certain about what your community needs, we will be happy to discuss your situation and suicide prevention goals. Please contact us to inquire. Together, we can help your community become safer from suicide.