Marne community receives suicide, first aid training
September 22, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga., Sept. 22, 2011 -- First line active-duty supervisors and unit responders took part in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, Sept. 15-16, to help learn how to break the cycle of suicides in our community. Thirty eight attendees packed a mid-sized classroom at Fort Stewart's Main Post Chapel and learned proper intervention procedures to help a battle buddy, family member or civilian.
The two-day course, offered through LivingWorks, has been around for decades and is utilized in conjunction with other suicide prevention training. More than a couple of hundred attendees from Stewart-Hunter have completed ASIST training thus far.
Like some training, participants complete background information before the start of class.
Attendees learn that suicide is a community health problem and by learning simple intervention steps, each can make an impact. The recent number of suicides, both Army wide and across the Third Infantry Division, warrants such an intervention class.
Participants learn that suicides occur in all parts of the world and suicidal thoughts are understandable, complex and personal based on normal circumstances. While suicide is always preventable, intervention remains critical in reducing the numbers.
"The more people we have trained, the better opportunity we have to stop suicides," lamented instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Arthur Woods. "We will not fully stop it [suicides], but the more defenses that we have the better off we will be."
"We want you to think of suicide as a river that flows in our community," said instructor (Chap.) Capt. Mathew Weathers. "Suicide is a ripple effect that impacts more than half of the U.S. population. Most people experience them (tributaries), yet some don't flow down the river of suicide. A safe community preserves, protects and promotes life."
"When you leave this class, you need to be ready, willing and able to help someone at risk," he said. "We can say it but the proof is in the pudding. If you are not ready, willing and able to do it [help someone in danger] you are not going to be able to help someone at risk for suicide."
Training consists of just more than standard classroom instruction. Skills practice based upon adult learning principles and intimate work groups allow for attendees to bond and share individual life experiences more freely.
"I've had two Soldiers kill themselves within my company and I wonder what more I could have done to prevent it from happening," said an anonymous attendee. "Everyone felt helpless."
Despite personal beliefs and feelings about suicide, instructors hammer home the importance of listening for key indicators of someone at risk.
"Intervention means taking the time to listen to someone rather than quickly saying let's go get you some help," Sgt. 1st Class Woods shared with his group. "Intervention skills are learned."
"We want to manage the river of suicide by offering help by way of CPR or a lifeline," explained (Chap.) Capt. Mathew Weathers. "You are not going to solve all the problems but rather be a lifeguard along the side the river."
"Participants leave here with proper protocol on how to respond to someone at risk. They learn to ask questions to determine if someone wants to die and move them towards help with a set of resources," explained instructor Johnny Cusimano, social services assistance coordinator.
Programs like ACE training works in concert with programs like ASIST and is applicable for everyone. Instructors ensure that participants leave the class feeling rejuvenated and ready to help someone in their community.
"I tell each attendee, that this is, by far, the best class they will ever have," Sgt. 1st Class Woods said.
Monthly ASIST classes are scheduled for the remainder of the year. The next two classes are scheduled for Sept. 26-27, and Oct. 6-7. For more information, call 912-767-5828.