People Are Dying for Suicide First Aid
Suicide affects us all. It’s an international problem. For example, more than 3,500 Canadians and 30,000 Americans kill themselves each year. Research studies in Canada and the United States show four to five percent of the population has attempted suicide during their lifetime. Other statistics are just as disturbing: one in nine has seriously considered suicide; and persons bereaved by suicide are eight times more likely to die by suicide.
No one is protected. Men and women of all ages, of all occupations and all socioeconomic groups are at risk. There is no guarantee of safety from suicide. The key to suicide prevention is trained caregivers who are ready, willing and able to get involved with each individual at risk – caregivers who can recognize individuals who are at risk and who know how to intervene to prevent the risk of suicidal thoughts becoming suicidal behaviors.
What Are the Costs?
How do you put financial value on the loss of a life? One economic study in the United States showed each youth suicide resulted in an average loss of 53 years of life and $432,000 of economic productivity. That total adds up to a staggering 202,000 lost years and $3.19 billion in lost productivity each year. In Canada, 12% of hospital critical-care and 2% of insurance pay-outs are suicide-related. But the economic and health costs pale alongside the emotional costs of suicide. A lost spouse, son, daughter, friend or co-worker can’t be replaced. And, as those who have experienced such loss understand, it is the emotional costs which demand our involvement in preventing suicide.
Something Can Be Done
The vast majority of those planning suicide will find some way to signal their intent. Most suicidal people are looking for another option. They don’t want to die. But preventing suicide takes two people: a helper and the person at risk.
Government reports in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and Finland, by the European World Health Organization and the United Nations emphasize that caregiver competence is a critical component in any large scale suicide prevention program.
ASIST Helps Prepare Caregivers
ASIST is designed to help all caregivers become more comfortable, competent and confident when dealing with persons at risk. Suicide can be prevented through the actions of prepared caregivers.
Just as CPR skills make physical first aid possible, training in suicide intervention develops the skills used in suicide first aid. ASIST is a two-day intensive, interactive and practice-dominated course designed to help caregivers recognize and estimate risk, and learn how to intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide.
The workshop is for all caregivers (any person in a position of trust). This includes professionals, paraprofessionals and lay people. It is suitable for mental health professionals, nurses, physicians, teachers, counselors, youth workers, police and correctional staff, school support staff, clergy, and community volunteers.
ASIST’s Five Learning Modules:
1) Introduction – sets the tone, norms, and expectations of the learning experience.
2) Attitudes – sensitizes participants to their own attitudes towards suicide. Creates an understanding of the impact which attitudes have on the intervention process.
3) Knowledge – provides participants with the knowledge and skills to recognize and estimate the risk of suicide.
4) Intervention – presents a model for effective suicide intervention. Participants develop their skills through observation, supervised simulation experiences and role playing.
5) Resourcing/Networking – generates information about resources in the local community. Promotes a commitment by participants to transform local resources into helping networks.
Emphasizing structured small-group discussions and practice, the course uses case-studies, workbooks and two award-winning audiovisuals. Participants receive a 110-page Suicide Intervention Handbook and a full color, laminated pocket card featuring intervention and risk estimation principles. They serve as living refreshers of the workshop learning.
ASIST is designed to help all caregivers become more comfortable, competent and confidant when dealing with persons at risk. Prepared caregivers can help prevent suicide.
Unprepared caregivers tend to deny, avoid, even stigmatize persons at risk. That is what society has traditionally done. All evidence indicates that unprepared caregivers continue this dangerous tradition. Training is required to turn denial, avoidance and stigmatization into vigilance, understanding and help.
Learn Suicide First Aid
Join over 250,000 caregivers and participate in a Living Works ASIST workshop. Learn to recognize and estimate risk and become more effective at helping people at risk. The benefits will live on.
Sponsor a Workshop
See the benefits first hand. Sponsors and organizers of ASIST receive a complete Organizers Guide. Helping to train the caregivers in your organization or community could save a life. It’s an investment in people that will continue to grow.
The LivingWorks Program is a comprehensive, coordinated and integrated approach to suicide prevention which involves the entire community. Living Works creates learning experiences that help communities prevent suicide and assist life. We are a public service corporation dedicated to enhancing resources today and saving lives for tomorrow. Our programs are cost-effective and easy-to-learn, with practical applications for all concerned community members.
Nothing is likely to change unless you help change it. You took the time to read this. You know something others don’t. Act on your knowledge.