Army approves suicide-intervention training for leaders

By Army Public AffairsDecember 3, 2009

Army Suicide-Prevention Poster
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 3, 2009) -- Suicide-intervention training is now available for Army leaders and other key personnel who are on the front lines of suicide prevention across the service.

The Army has approved two-day and five-day workshops on Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, known as ASIST. The workshops are produced by Living Works Education, Inc., at locations across the country.

The five-day ASIST workshop is a "train the trainers" course that will certify key Army personnel, who upon completion will be qualified to conduct the two-day ASIST course throughout the Army.

"We would never deploy Soldiers without first training them to accomplish their anticipated mission -- why should suicide prevention be any different'" asked Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force.

"When you go to the emergency room with a physical injury, you're right to expect the nurses and doctors are well-trained and can get you the care you need," McGuire said. "The same should be true if you're thinking of harming yourself and you choose to go to your leadership or other Army professionals seeking help."

The two-day ASIST workshops will train Army leaders, chaplains and chaplain assistants, substance abuse counselors, family advocacy program workers, medical and dental-health professionals, and other care providers in a range of suicide-prevention and intervention skills.

From identifying those who may be having thoughts of suicide to improved understanding of how beliefs and attitudes affect suicide interventions, Army personnel who complete the two-day course will be better able to save Soldiers, family members, and Department of the Army civilian's lives and serve as an additional suicide prevention resource for Army commanders, said Walter Morales, Army suicide prevention program manager.

"We want to rapidly expand the suicide-prevention capabilities of our Army," Morales said. "That means making realistic, immediately useful training available for the key links in our suicide-prevention chain. he two-day and five-day ASIST workshops provide both the intervention skills our community needs, and a way for us to get more qualified, competent, and capable trainers at units across the Army."

An updated version of the Army's regulation on Health Promotion (AR 600-63), which became effective Sept. 20, requires Army commands to maintain an appropriate number of certified suicide-intervention skills trainers on staff. An implementation timeline for this requirement along with funding requirements and a target date for completion are still pending, Morales said.

"Regardless of where a Soldier or Army civilian is assigned, we need to have the right number of trained suicide-intervention personnel in place," Morales said. "Soldiers must be confident they can get professional assistance when they reach out for it."

"I recently completed the two-day ASIST course," said Jan Morgan, a senior program analyst for the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "I didn't expect to be so impressed with the effectiveness of the training.

"It provides the opportunity to better understand the needs of a person at risk of suicide and learn how to use suicide 'first aid' to connect, understand and assist with persons at risk; identify 'invitations' for help, and listen for reasons for living. To me, ASIST is as valuable to saving someone's life as being CPR trained."

Army personnel interested in attending ASIST training should contact their command suicide prevention program manager for course locations, dates, availability and enrollment information.

ASIST five-day workshops are scheduled for this month at Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga., for the Army Reserve. Fort Bliss, Texas, has several of the two-day workshops scheduled over the next six months.

More information about the ASIST workshops is available <a href=""target=_blank></a>.

The ASIST training is intended to complement the Army's approved "Ask, Care, Escort" or ACE Suicide Prevention training currently available for all Soldiers and front-line supervisors.

ACE standardized training and awareness material can be downloaded from the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine Web site at <a href=""target=_blank></a>.

Related Links:

Army Pamphlet 600-24 (pdf)

Army Regulation 600-63 (pdf)

Army suicide prevention program