ASIST

ASIST two-day training

Anyone can learn the skills to help save a life from suicide.

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Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid. ASIST teaches participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety. Although ASIST is widely used by healthcare providers, participants don't need any formal training to attend the workshop—anyone 16 or older can learn and use the ASIST model.

Since its development in 1983, ASIST has received regular updates to reflect improvements in knowledge and practice, and over 1,000,000 people have taken the workshop. Studies show that the ASIST method helps reduce suicidal feelings in those at risk and is a cost-effective way to help address the problem of suicide.

Learning goals and objectives

Over the course of their two-day workshop, ASIST participants learn to:

  • Understand the ways that personal and societal attitudes affect views on suicide and interventions
  • Provide guidance and suicide first aid to a person at risk in ways that meet their individual safety needs
  • Identify the key elements of an effective suicide safety plan and the actions required to implement it
  • Appreciate the value of improving and integrating suicide prevention resources in the community at large
  • Recognize other important aspects of suicide prevention including life-promotion and self-care

Workshop features:

  • Presentations and guidance from two LivingWorks registered trainers
  • A scientifically proven intervention model
  • Powerful audiovisual learning aids
  • Group discussions
  • Skills practice and development
  • A balance of challenge and safety

ASIST helps to build regional networks of trained caregivers who can support each and use common terminology to approach suicide and safety. Want to get involved with this award-winning program? Here's how:

We mean it when we say that ASIST is for everyone. Virtually anyone aged 16 and older can learn the skills to intervene and save a life from suicide. Professionals as well as members of the community at large have all found great value in ASIST over the years. 

Many professionals attend ASIST because suicide intervention skills are essential for their work. In many organizations, ASIST is a mandatory component of training. Nurses, physicians, mental health professionals, pharmacists, teachers, counselors, youth workers, police, first responders, correctional staff, school support staff, clergy, and volunteers have all found that ASIST complements their existing training and knowledge. 

Other people attend simply because they want to be able to help someone in need, in much the same way they might learn CPR. Because the training is comprehensive and doesn’t rely on prior qualifications, they can have the same meaningful experience as a professional caregiver.

Ultimately, ASIST is founded on the principle that everyone can make a difference in preventing suicide. The more people in the community who have suicide intervention training, the more likely it is they will be able to identify someone at risk and intervene to keep them safe.

Each ASIST workshop is led by at least two registered LivingWorks trainers. In order to become registered, trainers must complete an intensive course called an ASIST Training for Trainers (T4T), present workshops regularly, and submit continuous quality assurance reports. Some ASIST trainers work independently while others belong to agencies and organizations, but all of them share a commitment to excellence in suicide intervention skills training. 

There are currently more than 6,000 active ASIST trainers around the world, and all trainers receive ongoing support from LivingWorks as they work to build suicide-safer communities.

Each ASIST workshop shares many core features that make up the LivingWorks international standard. Here is what you can expect at your ASIST training:

  • ASIST is held over two consecutive days for a total of 15 hours.
  • ASIST is based on principles of adult learning. It values participants’ experiences and contributions and encourages them to share actively in the learning process.
  • ASIST workshops always have a minimum of two active ASIST trainers present for the entire two days. If there are more than 30 participants, there will be at least three trainers. Workshops over 45 participants are not recommended and should be split into two separate sessions instead.
  • Trainers show two award-winning videos in the course of the workshop. Cause of Death? provides a common starting point for the discussion of attitudes about suicide, while two versions of It Begins with You illustrate the process of a suicide intervention.
  • Some parts of ASIST take place with all participants together, and others take place in a smaller work group. This helps create a balance between safety and challenge. Participants need not disclose personal experiences to the whole group.
  • Local resources are provided and their availability in the community is discussed.
  • Participant materials include a 20-page workbook, wallet card, and stickers. Participants also receive a certificate upon completing the workshop.

The ASIST workshop is divided into five sections that follow in a logical progression to gradually build comfort and understanding around suicide and suicide intervention. 

Preparing: Sets the tone, norms, and expectations of the learning experience.
Connecting: Sensitizes participants to their own attitudes towards suicide. Creates an understanding of the impact that attitudes can have on the intervention process.
Understanding: Overviews the intervention needs of a person at risk. It focuses on providing participants with the knowledge and skills to recognize risk and develop safeplans to reduce the risk of suicide.
Assisting: Presents a model for effective suicide intervention. Participants develop their skills through observation and supervised simulation experiences in large and small groups.
Networking: Generates information about resources in the local community. Promotes a commitment by participants to transform local resources into helping networks.

Although CEU standards vary from one organization to another, many agencies and licensure boards will grant CEU (continuing education unit) credits for attending an ASIST workshop. For more information, please see the CEU resource page.

The cost of attending an ASIST workshop varies by location for a number of reasons. For example, some organizations may subsidize workshop costs. You will be able to see these costs when you find a local training and register.

The small financial return to LivingWorks offsets development costs, participant materials, trainer support, and quality assurance. As a social enterprise, we finance all of these costs without subsidies, government grants, or tax benefits.

ASIST 11 is the current program version. Details and information can be found here.

We are pleased to note that the ASIST workshop is a strong match for the clinical workforce preparedness training guidelines developed by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, meeting or exceeding virtually all of the recommendations within the intervention scope. To help illustrate this alignment, we have prepared a downloadable document outlining ASIST’s alignment with the guidelines.

Those who are providing ASIST within their organizations are already doing their part to support clinical workforce preparedness in accordance with these guidelines. The downloadable document 
can be useful in demonstrating alignment with these guidelines for reports, funding applications, and other uses.

Founded in 2010, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is a public/private partnership that supports, develops, and advocates for the United States national suicide prevention strategy. Published in 2012, the updated edition of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention recognizes the importance of a broad clinical workforce that is well-prepared to assess and intervene when necessary. The Action Alliance’s Clinical Workforce Preparedness Task Force developed these guidelines as a core set of minimum requirements for the development, adoption, and dissemination of training efforts to support this preparedness. These guidelines are detailed in the 2014 document Suicide Prevention and the Clinical Workforce.

Additional Reading