By Rhiannon Saegert, the Daily Ardmoreite
Many people may not know what to do when faced with someone who may be suicidal, but teaching suicide intervention skills to the public could change that.
Local crisis center Sarah’s Project works with the organization LivingWorks to provide free suicide intervention and prevention training to the community, which is funded through United Way. Local surgeon Dr. Harry Galoob has been teaching those courses in Ardmore since 2000.
“Why would the average individual want to learn about suicide prevention skills?,” Galoob asked rhetorically. “Why would you want to learn CPR? This is suicide first aid.“
According to the Center for Disease Control, Oklahoma has the eighth highest number of suicides per capita of any state as of 2015. Galoob said that the issue has been an enduring one for the state.
“The only way you’re going to reduce the rate is if you teach people what to do if they encounter it,” Galoob said. “This is a worldwide program, the organization, including us, has trained over 500,000 in suicide prevention.“
The course comes in two forms; a three-hour training program and a more intense two day program called Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, which is designed for police, EMTs, counselors and other professionals who may encounter a suicidal person on the job.
“The program has built-in safety,” Galoob said. “If you attend a training and you’re carrying (this kind of) baggage with you, you may have a hard time with parts of this program and we know that. Not all suicide prevention programs have safety built in.“
Galoob said, ideally, everyone would learn some suicide intervention skills and be prepared to intervene for a friend, coworker or family member.
“In our lifetime, many of us may find somebody in a desperate situation, a heart attack or an emergency,” Galoob said. “I think many people think it would be nice to be able to do something to save that person. Suicide intervention is the exact same thing and anybody can do it. It is scary and uncomfortable, which is why we don’t do it, but if you have at least a little bit of practice you’re twice as likely to do something about it.“
Anyone seeking help may receive immediate assistance by logging onto Suicide.org or by calling 1-800-SUICIDE, services are available 24 hours a day.