War on Terrorism

Friday, April 01, 2011

Deployed S.C. National Guard unit trains in suicide intervention techniques

By Brian Hare
151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion

BAGHDAD (4/1/11) – South Carolina Army National Guard members serving with the 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion participated in suicide-intervention training at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad, March 17-18, 2011.

The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop was coordinated by Army Capt. Charles Poore, 151st ESB battalion chaplain. Poore also served as one of the course instructors.

"Right now the Army is seeing more Soldiers die by suicide than from combat," Poore said. "As responsible Soldiers, each of us needs to know how to intervene in a suicidal situation."

"ASIST teaches soldiers the skills to help their battle buddy who is in need," he said.

The ASIST training module was approved for use by the Army in 2009. In addition to the two-day workshop, a five-day "train the trainer" version is available for instructors who, upon completion, are qualified to conduct the two-day course.

The purpose of the course is to prepare Soldiers to identify others who may be at risk for committing suicide or displaying suicidal behavior, and to know how to properly intervene with immediate action.

During the course, the Soldiers were each required to participate in a role-playing exercise, acting as the at-risk soldier and the caregiver.

The scenarios were based on a variety of situations which might put a soldier at-risk of committing suicide, such as relationship and financial problems. After each scenario, Poore asked for feedback from the rest of the group.

Army Lt. Col. Richard Wholey, 151st ESB battalion commander, pointed out to the students that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., and that for every successful suicide attempt, there are 11 more unsuccessful attempts, placing an emphasis on the importance of the training.

"The training was invaluable," said 151st ESB Headquarters & Headquarters Company 1st Sgt. David Wilson.

"As a First Sergeant, it may help me to save a number of lives." Wilson said.

To date, 28 soldiers from the 151st have been trained and certified in ASIST, putting them well within the current Army requirement to have one soldier trained for every fifty soldiers within the unit.

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