KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Soldiers and civilians from around U.S. Army Europe came to U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland- Pfalz for a five-day "train the trainer" course, March 2-6, to become certified in the Army-approved suicide prevention program called ASIST.
The Army contracted LivingWorks, a company that specializes in suicide prevention training around the world, to provide their week-long Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshops around USAREUR. As part of the ASIST suicide intervention training, 24 trainees are learning skills to conduct the two-day ASIST training.
One of those trainees is Pfc. Amanda Reuter, a chaplain's assistant, with the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Rhine Ordnance Barracks. Although she is the most junior in the mixed class of officers, senior noncommissioned officers' and civilians, she understands how essential this training is to her job. "This training is helping me as a chaplain's assistant better interact with those who have suicidal thoughts or tendencies," Reuter said.
Reuter is finding ways to practice skills she is learning in her suicide intervention training to also help save lives outside of work. Recently, one of her family members voiced suicidal thoughts. She attributes her training to making it easier to have hard talks about suicide.
"Without the skills I have learned in the last two days I wouldn't know how to talk to this person," Reuter said. "Definitely moving forward, I can call this person today and get them in contact with people out there that can help."
This training starts by placing trainees in small groups to discuss their feelings on suicide. The discussions help the trainees to connect with their beliefs and attitudes, and how it can affect their intervention skills. Next, trainees are taught different ways they can identify individuals who may be having suicidal thoughts. Their instructors also teach resiliency to help reduce the number of suicides.
After their week-long training, the chaplains, chaplain's assistants, service members, and civilians will be able to go within their respective units and communities to help at-risk individuals and help prevent suicide.
While it can be difficult to predict, the ultimate goal of this class is to create a suicide free community. "Suicide doesn't discriminate. Anybody can be at risk of suicide," said ASIST team leader Fiona Houston. "It can be any race, any gender, and background."