2017-05-19 / Front Page

Suicide sensors, warning signs on the battlefield

BY SPC. TIFFINEY STEWART
707th Military Intelligence Battalion


On the first day of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, participants gather in small groups to introduce themselves and share their personal experiences with suicide and what they hope to gain from the class on Feb. 23 at Fort Gordon, Georgia. 
PHOTO BY CHAPLAIN (CAPT.) JOHN FIMPLE / 707TH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BATTALION On the first day of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, participants gather in small groups to introduce themselves and share their personal experiences with suicide and what they hope to gain from the class on Feb. 23 at Fort Gordon, Georgia. PHOTO BY CHAPLAIN (CAPT.) JOHN FIMPLE / 707TH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BATTALION The Unit Ministry Team of the 707th Military Intelligence Battalion provides quarterly Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshops to its Soldiers, creating prevention heroes readily prepared to battle suicide.

During the two-day course, leaders at all levels receive the training to ensure balanced coverage throughout the unit’s work areas and barracks living quarters. As suicide “gatekeepers”, the workshop graduates serve as frontline, first responders for persons at risk for suicide. ASSIST’s interactive workshops teach participants to recognize when someone is having thoughts of suicide and how to work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety.


Participants of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training held Nov. 4, 2016, engage in a variety of role-playing exercises called “The Bridge Simulation,” which provides the opportunity to conduct a suicide intervention while receiving guidance and assistance from workshop trainers and peers. 
PHOTO BY CHAPLAIN (CAPT.) JOHN FIMPLE / 707TH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BATTALION Participants of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training held Nov. 4, 2016, engage in a variety of role-playing exercises called “The Bridge Simulation,” which provides the opportunity to conduct a suicide intervention while receiving guidance and assistance from workshop trainers and peers. PHOTO BY CHAPLAIN (CAPT.) JOHN FIMPLE / 707TH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BATTALION “I believe that the best way to protect our Soldiers, civilians and families against suicide and self-harm is to recognize and respond to the warning signs when our teammates are in crisis,” said Lt. Col. Brenda Zollinger, 707th MI Bn. commander. “ASIST is for all of us, and the more ASIST-trained Soldiers I have in our formation the better. As an intelligence professional, I will compare our cadre of ASIST-trained Soldiers to sensors on the battlefield. ASIST personnel give us better advance warning when someone in our army family is facing a crucible struggle, and they can intervene immediately to render aid.”

More than 120 Soldiers in the battalion have been certified as ASIST gatekeepers since October 2016, when the quarterly workshops began. All Soldiers in the unit receive “Ask, Care and Escort,” the Army’s official suicide intervention training. However, ASIST provides an additional level of care, as gatekeepers are trained with active listening skills in order to build trust with persons at risk for suicide.

In addition, ASIST trained personnel are equipped to conduct safe plans, providing connections to personal and professional resources.

“I think everyone should be ASIST trained because suicide continues to be an issue in the Army. The training opens your eyes to look for suicidal warning signs and I am now more confident that I could talk to someone with suicidal issues,” said Pfc. Sapphire Hill, a recent ASIST graduate.

Since its creation in 1983, more than one million participants have graduated from the course, proving to be an effective tool in preventing suicide within military ranks. The course includes presentations and guidance from registered trainers, powerful audiovisual learning aids, group discussions and practice on skills learned.

“If you have Soldiers that are skillfully trained in ASIST then they can intervene, and provide on-going support for those with suicidal thoughts or demonstrating suicidal behavior,” said Spc. Shaye Andelin, another recent graduate of the class. “It is good that there are so many persons in the unit trained in ASIST because they are always looking out for people at risk for suicide.”

For more information about ASIST workshops available at Fort Gordon, contact Michael Reed, the ASAP Prevention Branch chief, at michael.a.reed177.civ@mail.mil or call (706)791-5797.

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