BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
When people struggle with mental health, it is often the people around them that notice it first. Those are the people that are able to recognize when someone needs help and be a source to help them.
Over the course of a two-day suicide prevention program called Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Airmen learned skills that will help them recognize someone who is struggling and feel confident enough to intervene and help them with a plan to keep them safe.
“There are a lot of people out there struggling,” said Tech. Sgt. Laura Gutierrez, ASIST instructor. “By giving these skills to people who are out there on the frontlines working with people everyday and able to recognize the things that they see, they are able to use those skills to help.”
Speaking up and asking for help can be very difficult for those struggling with mental health. People can be afraid of the consequences that might come from trying to seek help. They might be struggling with accepting that they need help or that there are resources to help.
“I think suicide a very widespread issue that we are facing,” said Senior Airman Eleonora Audet, ASIST instructor. “By talking about it and normalizing the word and normalizing the question, we are helping people feel more comfortable with asking those questions and those answers.”
This type of training is meant for those who want to learn a particular set of skills to help others, such as recognizing signs from someone with suicidal thoughts.
“We have people from all career fields come into this training,” Audet said. “And they definitely approach it differently. Some are more talkative than others and some don’t say a word until the very end when they’re called to actually practice.”
One thing that is emphasized in the training is helping the trainees be more comfortable connecting with others and making them feel safe. The trainees are put through scenarios that help them learn the best ways to talk to people who are having suicidal thoughts and mental health issues.
“You kind of have to go through the hard part of wanting to share your experiences and talk about some things that are painful to talk about or that you struggle to talk about,” said Airman 1st Class Catherine Cook, ASIST student. “From there, you can kind of reach a more connected point between each other because now you have something to relate to and you can understand that person a little better.”
For more information on the program, go to https://www.livingworks.net/asist <https://www.livingworks.net/asist> .