MORRIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tucson, Ariz.— Suicide is on the rise in the military, and the National Guard is no exception.
As such, leaders are constantly seeking ways to combat the threat to Airmen. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, is one of the tools the 162nd†Wing in Tucson, Ariz., is employing to protect its team.
Master Sgt. Grant Reed, first sergeant for the 214th Attack Group and 162nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, completed ASIST training over the summer.
“The main purpose of our ASIST team is to be a conduit for Airmen in need, we will take care of them during the initial and crucial steps until we can help them connect with the appropriate resource,” said Reed.
ASIST is a two-day workshop where participants learn to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive.
“As a firefighter and paramedic on the civilian side, I’ve had more experience with suicide than I like to recall,” said Reed. “I’ve seen the immediate impact suicide has on a family, on friends, and on the community in general. When you hear the stories from those left behind, it really cements in the fact that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.”
According to Reed, it’s easy to have the perception that because service members wear a uniform, they must maintain a facade of infallibility.
“Beneath the uniform, we are all human and we experience everything from joy and excitement to anxiety and depression-like anyone else,” said Reed. “It’s okay to raise your hand and ask for help if you find yourself in a dark place.”
As a wingman, Reed stresses that Airmen all have a responsibility to reach out to friends and coworkers if they think they may need help.
“Starting what might be an uncomfortable conversation by asking someone if they are considering suicide is nothing compared to the painful conversations we will be having if someone on our team takes their own life,” said Reed.
If you are interested in learning more about the ASIST Suicide Prevention Advocate Team please contact Darci Thompson, Director of Psychological Health Services, at 520-237-2826.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This support is confidential and available 24/7 for ALL service members, veterans their families, and friends. 1-800-273-8255.