Neither Charlette Lumby nor Michelle Bangen had heard of LivingWorks Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) before they took the week-long Training for Trainers last summer in Monmouth, Oregon.
They live about an hour apart in the west coast state and were both active in the suicide prevention field. Fast forward to a short year later and they are launching their own company, Incite Agency for Change, where ASIST training will be one of their offerings.
“It’s crazy in that it seems like I’ve known Charlette forever, but it’s only been a year now,” says Michelle. With Charlette being an ICU nurse as well as doing outreach education for suicide, drug, and alcohol prevention, and Michelle having a background in public health and sexual violence prevention, the duo ticks many boxes when it comes to the mental health field.
With a lot in common personally and professionally, they met a few months after their T4T and two trainings together under their belts with the same idea, unbeknownst to each other.
“We went out to dinner and apparently Charlette had been mulling over the idea of having a business together, like a training and education business. She didn’t know that I had actually been thinking about and working on that idea for myself for quite a while, and I had even mocked up my own business card the week prior. I think she came to that dinner thinking she was going to sell me on the idea of starting a business together, but we walked away from that dinner thinking, of course we’re going to do this,” recalls Michelle.
The two went full speed ahead getting everything in order to start their social enterprise focusing on providing prevention training and workshops, and then, COVID hit. Having to pivot hard, as first time entrepreneurs often need to, they looked at ways they could provide support to agencies as well as online options such as promoting LivingWorks Start to their community. Start is a 90-minute online evidence-based program that teaches trainees to recognize when someone is thinking about suicide and connect them to help and support. A great option in the current pandemic reality where face-to-face training is a challenge.
When asked for the need for an organization focusing on suicide and prevention in their region, Charlette has this comment, “I think it’s easy to say that this has always been an issue that is on the table. I say issue because it’s something that, as a society, we have to openly address and acknowledge as being part of normal human beings, having feelings and emotions.”
Being a nurse and working in that area, she sees another layer of stress during the pandemic, “When you look at frontline workers, we’re always considered at higher risk [for suicide], and now more than ever because of the trauma that we are subjected to, and working with COVID patients and people who are dying without families present,” Charlette adds.
“I have had the opportunity personally in my community to work on many different levels, such as in schools with students where I’ve performed interventions. I took this training and thought 'I’m going to have more education.' I didn’t know I would be having these amazing experiences interacting with the community and kids. And teachers that [witnessed these interventions] would say, 'How did you do that? I wish I could do that.'”
Now both women want to be able to train the community to do that. Their goal for the new organization is one of action where they draw people in, inspire them to act and create change, and likely save lives in the process.