ASAP hosts suicide prevention awareness training
Military veteran Mike Phillips from the Army Suicide Prevention Program Mobile Training Team, talks to APG junior leaders and first-line supervisors during an Ask, Care, Escort- Suicide Intervention (ACE-SI) "train the trainer" event at the Mallette Training Facility March 12.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Fifty-three junior leaders and first-line supervisors learned about suicide prevention awareness during the Ask, Care, Escort-Suicide Intervention (ACE-SI) event held March 12 at the Mallette Training Facility.

Military veterans Mike Phillips and Joe O'Connor, from the Army Suicide Prevention Program Mobile Training Team, led the daylong workshop. 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."

Phillips said the ACE-SI training is now more interactive, with role-playing exercises. The ACE-SI training teaches participants skills so they can help individuals who exhibit suicidal warning signs. The training also teaches participants to encourage these individuals to seek professional help.

During the training, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth O'Brien, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command's Logistics Readiness Center, shared his personal story about experiencing combat stress during a deployment and receiving help from Army Behavioral Health.

"If you see a Soldier acting down and out, take time to be there for them, get to know them," he said. "I want to tell Soldiers that it is okay to seek help."

Course participant Frank Mayer, from CECOM's Software Engineering Center, said he thinks training programs like ACE-SI helps reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues. Mayer, who joined the Army in 1979, said he has seen the military become more progressive on social issues.

"The Army is improving every year, with programs that provide better support for Soldiers," he said.

Yolanda Smith, from the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, said she attended the program so she could provide assistance to those displaying suicidal warning signs. Smith said she encountered Soldiers struggling with suicidal thoughts while working as a Department of Defense civilian employee in Afghanistan.

"Soldiers often seek help from peers," she said. "They might not want to seek help from professionals because they are afraid there will be repercussions."

ASAP hosts suicide prevention awareness trainings throughout the year. For more information about upcoming trainings, contact Gesch at 410-278-7779 or e-mail

Page last updated Wed March 26th, 2014 at 08:31