safeTALK Speaks to Local Police Officers

Police officers from the Livingston and West Orange Police Departments were among the first people to attend safeTALK, a suicide-prevention workshop offered by Friendship Circle’s nascent UMatter program addressing mental health challenges.

“The training has been very informative and educational. We’re really hoping to bring the skills we’ve learned back to the West Orange Police Department and share it with our co-workers,” said Capt. Rich McDonald who runs community outreach at the WOPD.

According to McDonald, there has been a rising number of calls to the police department in recent months dealing with mental-health challenges and an audit of calls in 2020 found that 15 percent of calls dealt with suicide or thoughts of suicide.

The training, which was given by Friendship Circle’s Rabbi Yisroel Rosenblum, who is a certified safeTALK instructor and ASIST, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.

Separate safeTALK training programs were offered to teens as well as part of the UMatter initiative.

UMatter’s goal is to make sure that every person know that they matter. UMatter empowers teens to shatter the stigmas surrounding mental health challenges through peer-to-peer projects that create an atmosphere of inclusion in their community and school. UMatter empowers students to support their peers and teaches that there is strength in seeking help.

Small-group training programs are available at LifeTown or onsite. For more information about UMatter or to participate in an upcoming workshop, visit or contact Rabbi Rosenblum at

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