Offutt chaplains 'ASIST' with suicide prevention training

  • Published
  • By Charles J. Haymond
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Offutt’s Chaplain Corps conducted a suicide prevention class using the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training inside the Capehart Chapel June 16.

ASIST was established by LivingWorks in 1983, and the chaplains are using their training to help prevent suicides. The chaplains are equipping Airmen with information to aid them in having 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 false,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Humphrey, 55th Wing head chaplain. ”Most Airmen will tell a friend they are suicidal before they will tell a chaplain, so we are putting a tool in the hands of our Airmen to empower them to be more effective in their care for each other.”

According to the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, 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 planes and equipment worth billions of dollars, and we train them to care for and oversee that equipment. Why would we not train them to care for the most important resource we have - our Airmen,” Humphrey said.

The program has helped team Warhawk members over the years.

“Since the program started, we have trained over 180 front line supervisors on how to see the signs of people who are suicidal and effectively intervene,” Humphrey said. “Additionally, the model teaches and enhances emotional intelligence, which also helps supervisors identify if their people are struggling with something whether it’s suicide or not.”

One of the models used during this workshop is called the Pathway for Assisting Life. It helps people learn how to engage someone in moments of crisis and provides them with tools to help the individual choose safety instead of suicide.

“I signed up because I've been in the position to help people struggling with suicide many times throughout my adult life and am passionate about helping those people,” said Capt. Brenden Frerck, 55th Operational Support Squadron. “I know firsthand the value of having someone care enough to intervene and keep me safe when I was in crisis.”