By Alun Thomas, Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS)
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif -- The 63rd Regional Support Command conducted Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) at their headquarters, Mountain View, Calif., Aug. 23-24, which successfully trained 15 Army Reserve personnel to become ASIST certified by teaching methods associated with combating suicidal behavior.
The course, which uses a prescribed curriculum from LivingWorks Education, focuses primarily on intervention and how to safely assist those suffering from suicidal thoughts.
There are over a million people trained in ASIST, said Renita Duncan, a certified ASIST trainer for the 63rd RSC, with many more crucially needed to help with the military’s ongoing suicide crisis.
“We take away the taboo and render discussions about suicide,” Duncan said. “Over the two days of the course that’s what we talk about and how to provide information to sustain life.”
Living Works Education retains policy of the program, so even military members have to train the way they’ve been taught and try to avoid streamlining it to being specifically military based, she continued.
“Their program has been proven to work, all of the time. At the end of the two days most people can’t believe that it works- it really works,” Duncan said.
Suicide doesn’t just happen and come out of nowhere, Duncan said, it could come from a variety of stressful situations that build up gradually.
“Once you hit a wall for any individual reason, this is when you could start thinking about suicide,” she said. “Once you’re over that wall you reach what we call ‘the river’ where you start having suicidal thoughts and become at risk.”
“This is what we really want to focus on … when nobody helps someone with those thoughts, that’s when they start displaying suicidal behavior,” Duncan explained.
Suicide can affect many people, so it’s important we as intervention professionals are able to help, Duncan said, especially in the Army, which has 56,000 service members with patterns of suicidal behavior.
Finding the class valuable was Army Reserve Sgt. Tommy Ruperto, program analyst, 63rd RSC, who said the training is a useful tool for anyone in the military or in everyday life.
“It’s important to have this skill for not just your unit, but also your community,” Ruperto said. “People encounter a lot of problems in their lives and this gives us the skills to cope with their issues regarding suicide.”
Ruperto said one of the most important things he learned during ASIST was to listen carefully to anyone immersed in suicidal thoughts or behavior.
“Learning to listen and understand how I can assist with someone in a time of risk is critical,” he said. “I want to be able to help save someone’s life.”
Ruperto recommended the training to anyone thinking about becoming certified in ASIST.
“This the third time I’ve done it and I find something new every time,” Ruperto said. “It should be part of every Soldiers training.”