People Are Dying for Suicide First Aid
Suicide affects us all. It’s an international problem. More than 40,000 Americans kill themselves each year. 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? Recent studies showed that suicides accounted for $50.8 billion in medical and work-loss costs in 2013. The average medical and work-loss cost of a suicide death in 2013 was $1.2 million.* Non-fatal self-harm injuries accounted for $11.3 billion of lifetime medical and work-loss costs, respectively. The average cost of treating an injury resulting from self-harm is 71% higher than for unintentional injuries.**
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 from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Finland, as well as from the United Nations and the European World Health Organization emphasize that caregiver competence is a critical component in any large scale suicide prevention program.
ASIST Helps Prepare Caregivers
ASIST is an internationally recognized suicide intervention workshop designed to help all caregivers become more comfortable, competent and confident when dealing with persons at risk. Its goals and outcomes closely align with the clinical workforce preparedness training guidelines developed by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, meeting or exceeding virtually all of its recommendations.
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.
Anyone age 16 or older, regardless of prior experience or training, can become an ASIST-trained caregiver. Mental health professionals, nurses, physicians, teachers, counselors, youth workers, police and correctional staff, school support staff, clergy, and community volunteers can all use this course improve their skills and confidence regarding suicide crisis and intervention.
During the two-day interactive session, participants learn to intervene and help prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Each ASIST workshop is facilitated by at least two registered and certified LivingWorks trainers. The workshops feature powerful audiovisual learning aids, space for group discussions, and opportunities for skills practice and development. The course is regularly updated to reflect improvements in knowledge and practice. It is designed to challenge participants while respecting their emotional safety and personal boundaries. All participants receive a 20-page workbook, wallet card, and stickers, along with a certificate of completion.
Over 1,000,000 people around the world have participated in an ASIST workshop. There are currently more than 7,500 active ASIST trainers, all of whom receive ongoing support from LivingWorks as they work to build suicide-safer communities.
ASIST is maintained by LivingWorks, a company that specializes in the development of suicide intervention training programs and curricula. It offers several programs varying in intensity and focus, all intended to build suicide-safe communities. More information about LivingWorks is available at www.livingworks.net.
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. Click here to schedule a training session with TSPN.
* Florence, C., et al. (2015). Estimated lifetime medical and work-loss costs of fatal injuries: United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 64(38): 1074-77.
** Florence, C., et al. (2015) Estimated lifetime medical and work-loss costs of emergency department–treated nonfatal injuries: United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 64(38): 1078-82.