Team Vance members ASIST with prevention

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
  • Public Affairs
Not everyone knows how to react when they realize someone they know is suicidal, but Team Vance is working to ensure they do.
The Vance Chapel offers Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, which gives people the tools they need to recognize a suicidal person, talk with him or her and get help.
Although commanders, first sergeants and supervisors are the target audience of this training, anyone can attend to learn how to possibly save the life of a coworker, friend or loved one.
"Suicide remains the No. 2 cause of death for active-duty military members," said Gen. William Looney III, Air Education and Training Command commander. "In 2005, 31 Airmen lost their lives to suicide -- seven of those Airmen were from our command. Clearly, we have work to do."
During ASIST, participants go through role playing, watch videos and review suicide scenarios, said Airman 1st Class Jessica Parker, 71st Flying Training Wing chaplain's assistant. They learn what some signs of a suicidal person are, possible reasons they're suicidal and how to help the person work things out.
"The scenario may be the person has been diagnosed with cancer," Airman Parker explained. "Participants learn the person may show signs like loss of interest in hobbies, reckless behavior or loss of appetite. So then they learn how to ask the person the right questions and listen to their answers as well as how to get the person help."
Someone interacting with a suicidal person doesn't have to know how to mentally help them; ASIST simply offers a "safety net" until that person can get professional help, said Terri Presa, 71st Mission Support Squadron family support center.
"Participants gain expertise in interacting with the person and connecting with him or her until the person can get the help he or she needs," Ms. Presa said. "The program is important because suicide doesn't just happen to coworkers -- it can happen to family and friends too. You never know when you might need to know these intervention skills."
Since 2004, the chapel has offered nine ASIST classes. The next two-day seminar is Wednesday and Thursday in the community chapel activity center.
To sign up for the class or for more information, call 7211.