Spartan Soldiers become first line against suicide
November 17, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Understanding and aiding a Soldier with suicidal thoughts can potentially be the most difficult tasks noncommissioned officers might ever face in their careers. For the noncommissioned officers in 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, and 92nd Engineer Battalion the tools have been made available to help leaders deal with a potential suicidal Soldier, during ASIST training, held at Fort Stewart's Marne Chapel, Nov. 8.
The training, which was established in 2002, is a two-day course, which focuses on training Soldiers on how to identify and communicate with a potential suicidal individual.
"ASIST is really the second tier of suicide prevention training for the Army," said Chaplain (Capt.) Carlos Whitley, 92nd Eng. Bn. "Every Soldier in the Army is required to receive ACE training, which advises Soldiers how to identify a suicidal individual and get them to a health care professional. ASIST trains that Soldier or noncommissioned officer to be a first responder to a potential suicidal individual."
Chaplain Whitley commented that the training is focused on making the individual a first responder for potential suicidal individuals, much like a combat medic is on the battlefield.
"The medic is not going to perform surgery on the battlefield, but will keep that Soldier alive until further aid can be provided. This is what an ASIST trained Soldier does for a potentially suicidal individual," Chaplain Whitley said.
The training mostly centers on teaching individuals how to talk through a conversation with a potentially suicidal individual and aid that individual in finding professional help. A task that is not easily accomplished, Chaplain Whitley said.
"Really, the training focuses on getting an individual to the comfort level to be able to communicate with a suicidal individual, and give them some of the tools to walk them through that conversation," Chaplain Whitley said.
While many Chaplains and professional Army counselors have attended the training, this is the first time the training has taken placed on Fort Stewart, according to Chaplain Whitley.
"We got a call that Spartan 6 (Col. Douglas Cardinale) wanted his brigade, and the 92nd Engineer Battalion, to begin this training at Fort Stewart for the 2nd Brigade Soldiers, so the Chaplains that have had this training for years just got together along with members of the Army Community Services, to get this knowledge to the Soldiers," Chaplain Whitley said.
Currently the Spartan Brigade and 92nd Eng. Bn. have trained 91 individuals and plan to have 280 trained ASIST Soldiers by January, according to Chaplain Whitley.