ASIST develop suicide prevention skills

ASIST develop suicide prevention skills

by Eric Hamilton
USAG-J Public Affairs

CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Sept. 15, 2015) -- Camp Zama offered a two-day suicide prevention course Sept. 8 and 9 for Soldiers, Family members, Local National Employees and contractors at the Camp Zama Religious Education Center.

 Eight Camp Zama employees, representing five different Army units completed the training known as ASIST -- Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.

 "This is the best prevention class I have ever seen," said an ASIST class participant. "Anyone can end up talking with a person considering suicide. This is a fantastic forum for leaders and non-leaders alike to engage, learn from one another, and help save lives."

 Esther Dacanay, prevention specialist with the Camp Zama Army Substance Abuse Program, said ASIST is a program utilized by all branches of the U.S. military, and it is required for all personnel in official gatekeeper positions in accordance with Army Regulation 600-63, pg. 19, table 4-1.

 During the class, the participants practiced hands-on crisis intervention skills utilizing a variety of methods, including active listening dialogues, video-based scenarios, training skits, and real-life scenarios.

 Dacanay said participants gained an in-depth understanding of suicide risk factors and warning signs of possible suicide through a series of lectures delivered by a team of two or three certified ASIST trainers.

 "Once the lectures are presented, participants are engaged in learning what to say to someone at risk, how to intervene in a potential crisis, and what resiliency resources to refer to someone in a crisis," said Dacanay.

 "Statistics say that nine times out of ten, if someone is having thoughts of suicide, they will tell a friend, family member, or trusted acquaintance first before ever telling anyone who is in an official helping capacity," said Dacanay.

 "Typically, that 'official gatekeeper' is merely the second or third person to know if someone is having thoughts of suicide," said Dacanay, "life can take a turn in a matter of seconds, and any one of us is vulnerable to having thoughts of suicide."

 Dacanay said ASIST is vital life training, available to all Soldiers, Civilians, Local National Employees, and Family members to help build and sustain health and resilience.

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide ranks tenth among the leading causes of death in the U.S., causing more than 41,000 deaths in 2013. After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

 ASIST is offered at Camp Zama on a quarterly basis said Dacanay. The class sizes can range from 6 to 30 participants, depending on the training venue capacity and enrollment numbers.

 To find out more information on the program, visit

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