By Philip Schoppmann, safeTALK and ASIST trainer
Photo: Trainers (L-R) Philip Schoppmann, Debra Caputo, and Linda Sherlock-Reich with the FBI seal
I always say that a success for any of us is a shared success for all of us. I feel the same way about recognition. Recently, both a training group in New York and LivingWorks as a whole received recognition for their success in making a very special part of the federal law enforcement community safer from suicide.
In March 2017 the TULIPS (Trainers United on Long Island for the Prevention of Suicide), a group of LivingWorks trainers based in New York, received special recognition for their effort in providing training to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Awards were presented to the trainers at the beginning of an ASIST training held at the FBI’s Manhattan Field Office. Pleasantly surprised and deeply honored, a few of the TULIPS trainers accepted the awards on behalf of the entire group.
The relationship between the TULIPS and the Bureau started in early 2016, when some FBI employees from the FBI’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) attended an ASIST training hosted by the Suffolk County Police Department in conjunction with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services.
The training was well received and introduced the core beliefs held by LivingWorks, as well as the PAL model—which could help address the need to increase safety for employees within the FBI.
One of the Bureau’s participants, Margaret Lane from the EAP team, inquired if the training was available to be brought to the New York Headquarters in Manhattan. The first training was provided in March of 2016 and included EAP personnel, members from the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Team, and a few administrative supervisors.
The TULIPS, sponsored by the Suicide Prevention Center of New York, the New York State Office of Mental Health, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, proceeded to provide ASIST training to nearly every main FBI field office in New York.
Margaret was the driving force for bringing the program in. She works tirelessly to keep her community safe and supported. She inspired us as trainers and we were ecstatic to be able to have her recognized with a LivingWorks Recognition Award, which we presented to her in front of one of the biggest groups we trained.
Law enforcement personnel need training like ASIST not only for their work, but also to help keep each other safe from suicide. The TULIPS have now brought LivingWorks’ programs to agencies like the FBI and the Pentagon Police Force Agency, as well as sheriffs, police and security officers on the state, city and county level. We already have more ASIST trainings scheduled with the FBI, and they may someday introduce safeTALK as another option.
The FBI is considering training their own LivingWorks trainers, including Margaret and other EAP Counselors and peer-trained employees. The Bureau intends that those chosen will become registered ASIST trainers, able to instruct throughout other field offices across the country. The TULIPS are excited to help these new trainers transition into the main trainers for the Bureau.
We also hope that this story is an inspiration to other trainers to make the attempt to reach out to the law enforcement community and set up even a single training. We never could have imagined the scope of our actions at the initial workshop. A single training blossomed into a movement, the way a single flower may spread across a field.
About the TULIPS: The TULIPS are based in Long Island, NY, and serve all of New York and some surrounding states. The members of the group serve in many roles and have various professions including law enforcement, social work, grief and bereavement, and marriage and family therapy. Currently the members are all LivingWorks trainers, and include Linda Sherlock-Reich, Diane Sweet, Brooke Yonick, Debra Caputo, and Philip Schoppmann.