OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. —
Offutt’s Chaplain Corps conducted a suicide prevention class using Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training inside Capehart Chapel on June 16.
ASIST was created by LivingWorks in 1983, and chaplains use their training to help prevent suicides. Chaplains are equipping Airmen with information to help them have difficult conversations with others.
“I think the perception is that only chaplains or mental health people can help someone who is suicidal. This is absolutely untrue,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Humphrey, 55 Wing Chief Chaplain. “Most Airmen will tell a friend they are suicidal before telling a chaplain, so we are putting a tool in the hands of our Airmen to enable them to be more effective in caring for each other.”
According to the Office of Defense Suicide Prevention, there were 85 suicide deaths in the active component, 24 in the reserve and 23 in the national guard in the 4th quarter of CY 2021.
“Think about it, our Airmen oversee aircraft and equipment worth billions of dollars, and we train them to maintain and oversee that equipment. Why don’t we train them to take care of the most important resource we have? – our Airmen,” Humphrey said.
The program has helped Team Warhawk members over the years and it has no plans to stop.
“Since the program began, we’ve trained more than 180 front-line supervisors on how to see the signs of suicidal people and how to intervene effectively,” Humphrey said. “Additionally, the model teaches and enhances emotional intelligence, which also helps supervisors identify if their employees are struggling with something, whether it’s a suicide or not.”
One of the models used during this workshop is called Pathway for Assisting Life. It helps people learn how to involve someone in times of crisis and provides them with tools to help the individual choose safety over suicide.
“I signed up because I’ve been able to help people struggling with suicide many times throughout my adult life and I’m passionate about helping those people,” said the Captain Brenden Frerck, of the 55th Operational Support Squadron. “I know firsthand the value of having someone caring enough to step in and keep me safe when I was in crisis.”