Suicide prevention training goes face-to-face

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(Courtesy photo)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — The World Health Organization reports that every year, more than 800,000 people die from suicide or roughly one death every 40 seconds.

It’s a hard subject to speak on and some people don’t know where to go to for assistance. The Air Force is making sure that we give people who are going through hard times all the love and the support they need.

The Air Force recently changed its annual suicide prevention training from a computer-based course to face-to-face training.

The new, in-person training, which went into effect Feb. 11, replaces the annual computer-based training for active-duty and Reserve Airmen, while civilians have the option to attend the face-to-face training or complete the CBT.

The goal is to have all Airmen attend face-to-face training by May 26.

“The Air Force Community Action Information Board and the Air Force Learning Council directed this change in format to enhance the effectiveness of suicide prevention training,” said Lt. Col. Mitzi Thomas-Lawson, Mental Health Branch Chief for Air Education and Training Command. “The desired outcome is to provide Airmen an opportunity to discuss suicide prevention concepts.”

The new training is designed to provide good discussion and give each member a chance to talk openly. With CBTs, Airmen weren’t able to discuss with one another. Now with the new face-to-face training, the Air Force is hoping it will spark debates and have Airmen come together as one.

“The face-to-face training is an hour in length which includes a 24-minute vignette-based video,” said Thomas-Lawson. “Discussion groups should have between eight and 20 members and should not exceed 30 participants.”

Training facilitators are chosen within individual units on base. The goal is to have squadron leaders be in charge of the training.

Similar to the CBT, the face-to-face training will be an annual mandatory requirement. The goal for AETC is to have 95 percent or more active-duty Airmen trained using the new format by May 26. Once complete, training will be documented by unit training managers in the Advanced Distributed Learning Service.

“I believe that the new face-to face training will spark great conversations and get people to voice their opinions,” said Sharon Kozak, 56th Fighter Wing community support coordinator. “Some people have witnessed their loved ones and friends wanting to end their lives. With their stories, Airmen will be able to reflect and talk about how we can help one another.”