Installation Unit Ministry Team conducts suicide prevention training at APG
September 16, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Members of the APG community learned about suicide prevention during the Ask, Care, Escort-Suicide Intervention (ACE-SI) training held at the Main Post Chapel Aug. 21.
Installation Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jerry Owens and Garrison Chapel Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Sgt.1st Class Elijah Mack led the training, which featured group discussions and role playing exercises. Suicide Prevention Program Manager Kenneth Gesch, from the Army Substance Abuse Program, facilitated the training.
Gesch said the purpose of ACE-SI training is to "train- the- trainers" so they can go back to their organizations or units and teach the course in small groups.
"The Army looked at how we conduct suicide prevention training and found that small groups are more effective," Gesch said. "People are usually more willing to participate in discussions in small groups."
Gesch said that the ACE-SI training teaches participants skills so they can help individuals who demonstrate suicide warning signs. The training also teaches participants to encourage these individuals to seek professional help.
"I think the stigma for seeking help in the military has improved quite a bit," Gesch said. "The Sergeant Major of the Army (Raymond Chandler) has discussed his experiences seeking behavioral health specialists for counseling. He has made suicide prevention one of his top priorities."
One course participant, Ben Polanco from CECOM, said stress from deployments, demanding workloads and budgetary cutbacks have strained Soldiers, the civilian workforce and their Families.
"I think that the Army takes this issue very seriously," he said. "We spend so much time at work, co-workers become like our Family members. We need to be able to reach out to them, if they need help. I served in combat several times and know how stressful it can be, I had to overcome many things. I want to be able to help my fellow Soldiers and fellow employees. I had several great mentors (in my career) now it is time for me to give back that which was given to me. I want to help build a stronger workforce."
During the training Owens discussed protective factors, or skills, strengths and resources that help people deal more effectively with stressful events. These protective factors reduce the likelihood of attempting or completing a suicide. Owens said resilient people are able to "bounce back" from stressful events. He said one of the keys to becoming more resilient is to make connections and commitments to others. Owens encouraged ACE-SI participants to show those seeking help that their lives matter.
"Resilient people have a sense of purpose in their lives," Owens said. "They are connected to others."
Gesch said that so far, more than 50 people from the APG community have taken ACE-SI training.
Another training session will be offered 8 a.m. to noon, Sept. 10, at the Main Post Chapel. Team APG will provide a variety of suicide awareness trainings for the community throughout September which is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month as well as National Recovery Month.
"We need to keep the issue [of suicide prevention] in people's minds; people do not always pick up on the warning signs," Gesch said.