Monday, March 16, 2009

ASIST Training

On March 11th and 12th, I attended Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), sponsored by the UNCG Student Health Center. ASIST provides intensive training and practice in recognizing individuals in danger of committing suicide or engaging in suicidal behavior, assessing the immediate risk of such behavior, as well as how to intervene and assist someone in an obvious suicidal situation.

ASIST training is referred to as “suicide first aid.” The training helps people in any role or profession reduce and eliminate the immediate threat of suicide, as opposed to training for the long term care of potential suicide victims. ASIST training supplements the UNCG Cares initiative through the Dean of Students office as well as Safe Zone training offered by the UNCG Wellness Center. Although many people attending this program were mental health professionals, my fellow trainees included people from Campus Ministries, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Housing & Residence Life.

ASIST is the most intensive training program offered through LivingWorks Education, Inc. Additionally, there are 2-3 hour programs (suicideTALK & safeTALK) and day-long training sessions (WorkingTogether & suicideCare). Healthcare professionals as well as informal facilitators attend these programs.

Why is it important to have suicide awareness and intervention training when working at a university? According to 2005 statistics, suicide is the third cause of death among Americans 15-24 years of age. In fact, over 1,000 students commit suicide on college campuses each year, and 1 in 12 students has planned his or her suicide at some point. Based on this statistic, of the 28,429 undergraduates who can borrow from our library in 2007-08, 2,370 have considered suicide at some point. Of the 7,646 students seen in instructional sessions by our Reference Department in 2007, at least 638 have had thoughts of suicide. With statistics like these, campus-community awareness and training is a necessity.

For more information about the ASIST program and other prevention and awareness training, visit:

For more general information concerning suicide, visit:

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