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Chapel ASISTs with suicide prevention

U.S. Air Force graphic by Lance Beebe

U.S. Air Force graphic by Lance Beebe

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. –  66th Air Base Group officials are offering those with base access an opportunity to attend Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training at the Hanscom Chapel, Sept. 23—24 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The two-day training teaches participants suicide intervention methods and helps ensure those who may be the first to talk with a person at risk for suicide are prepared to get that person the help they need.

“The ASIST program teaches someone how to identify warning signs, how to ask those hard questions and how to walk someone through to keep them safe,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Shawn Taylor.  

Although the ASIST program has been offered at Hanscom before, the September session comes in the wake of Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein’s Resiliency Tactical Pause directive, meant to combat the rising number of suicides in the Department of Defense.

"You know, someone right now in your organization is struggling," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright in a July video message to the force. "Someone in your organization is suffering from [post-traumatic stress disorder] or depression. Someone in your organization is feeling hopeless and they may be thinking that suicide is the answer. Give them better options. Let's lead them to a better answer."

The training starts with large group exercises and then breaks down into smaller groups with hands-on, simulated interventions, said the chaplain, who believes ASIST helps participants get a better understanding of what they bring to the conversation around suicide.

“It helps you understand where you’re coming from and what attitudes and beliefs you bring to the subject,” said Taylor. “We don’t want to change your beliefs, just make you aware of them, so there’s nothing hindering you from performing a successful intervention.”

The chapel staff is hoping to equip more of the Hanscom community with refined skills on how to intervene and prevent suicide, and views the training as a growth opportunity for both wingmen and leaders, the chaplain added.  

“We will teach anyone who is willing to step into that space, to help someone who may be at risk for suicide, and help them look toward life,” he said.

To register for the ASIST training session, contact the Hanscom Chapel at 781- 225-5501.