HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The Hanscom Chapel is resuming Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, a two-day workshop designed to prepare individuals to intervene and provide assistance to a person with suicidal thoughts.
The first ASIST class will take place at the chapel this week. The program is designed not just for Air Force personnel, but for all members of the community.
“ASIST gives people the tools they need to notice signs of suicidal ideation or self-harm in someone,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Andrew Murphy. “It allows them to successfully intervene and get the other person the help they need.”
The training is an interactive, open forum that helps participants recognize persons at risk, learn the skills to provide suicide first-aid, and practice the skills required to intervene.
“The training encompasses several different teaching methods,” said Murphy. “There is some classroom-style teaching content, with slide presentations and open discussions. But mostly we do lot of hands-on work. We do role-playing and practice doing interventions and interacting with someone who is having thoughts of suicide. We explore how people may respond and then work through it with the trainees.”
Hanscom AFB has offered the program since 2015. The most recent session was in March 2020. The ASIST class requires certified instructors to teach it and the previous instructors departed Hanscom after that class. The instructor course is very popular; open spaces are hard to come by and Murphy only recently returned from completing it.
“The goal of the ASIST training is to get past the awkwardness and speak more directly to someone who might need help,” said Murphy. “By the end of it, trainees feel more comfortable and can successfully navigate through an intervention.”
The training is open to all active and reserve military personnel, government employees, contractors, dependents, and retirees with access to the base.
“We’ve gotten a really good response so far,” said Murphy. “We only have space for 15 participants this time, but will expand to 30 in the next class, which will probably be in January. We are maintaining a waiting list to take the class, so please don’t hesitate to sign up.”
To register for an upcoming ASIST session, contact Dr. Abigail Cutter, Hanscom violence prevention integrator at 781-225-4033 or Abigail.firstname.lastname@example.org.