Story by MC3 Marissa Valentine
Sailors and First Responders at Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka recently gained valuable training on preventing and helping people who are contemplating suicide.
The students took part in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) course conducted by Living Works Education Inc. at Yokosuka’s Fleet and Family Services Center in late January.
A recent United States survey by a mental health services group estimated 8.3 million adults have had serious thoughts about suicide in the past year, that 2.3 million had made a suicide plan, and that 1.1 million had attempted suicide.
ASIST is a two -day workshop that provides participants with the skills necessary to connect understand and assist persons who may be at risk for suicide. Facilitated by Living Works Education Inc., over one million people in 22 countries have been ASIST -trained since its development in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in the early 1980s.
“Historically the Navy has focused efforts on prevention and awareness, but little has been done in the area of suicide intervention,” said Commander Navy Region Japan Chaplain, Captain Mil Yi. Yi is responsible for the formation of Yokosuka’s Suicide Prevention Working Group.
The Suicide Prevention Working Group is comprised of caregivers from a variety of backgrounds, the group meets once a month to address the effects suicide on the community and what can be done to spread awareness, Yi said.
“By bringing in Living Works Education Inc. we have learned procedures to teach our shipmates, and members of the community … to not only prevent suicides but also help someone who may just be having these dangerous thoughts,” Yi said.
“I have found no program in the Navy, that when we get feedback forms, where people complain that the training isn’t long enough,” said ASIST intervention trainer, Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Ross lead presenter at training.
“Most of the people who go through this class do four to six interventions in their first year. The reported suicide behavior is going up, which is a good thing because the numbers of suicides are going down, because people are intervening.”
“This means that we are getting involved in peoples’ lives in times of need, instead of when it is too late, said Ross.
There are currently more than 3,500 ASIST trainers worldwide and more than one million people have attended the ASIST workshop.
“When someone attends an ASIST workshop they will receive 15 hours of intervention training,” Yi said. “They are better equipped to recognize suicide warning signs, ask clearly and directly about suicide, assess risk using a suicide intervention model, and link persons at risk with the appropriate resources.”
“Through greater awareness, training and engaged leadership the Navy is making progress in the reduction in the number of suicides through programs like ASIST,” he added.
For more information on ASIST training and openings for the next workshops contact the CNRJ Chaplains office at 243-6931.