Suicide intervention training in Lexington

newspaperEach year, nearly three times more people die by suicide in Virginia than by homicide. It’s the 11th-leading cause of death in the state, and the second most prevalent cause of death for ages 15 through 34. But while suicide is preventable, most people don’t feel prepared to help.

Applied Suicide Intervention Training (ASIST), offered next month in Lexington, helps people to first recognize when someone may be at risk, and then to intervene effectively.

The two-day workshop is being hosted on July 30 and 31 by Rockbridge Area Community Services (RACS) in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Virginia Chapter at the RACS headquarters at 241 Greenhouse Road in Lexington. Participants should plan to attend both days from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ASIST helps people provide guidance to those at risk and apply suicide first aid in many settings: with family, friends, co-workers, teammates, and with those for whom they provide direct care. Also covered will be the key elements of an effective suicide safety plan, the way that personal and societal attitudes affect views on suicide and interventions, the value of improving and integrating suicide prevention resources within the community, and other important aspects of suicide prevention such as life-promotion and self-care.

Since its development in 1983 by a partnership that would grow into the LivingWorks organization, the ASIST training curriculum has been updated regularly to reflect improvements in knowledge and practice. More than 1,000,000 people have taken the workshop. According to LivingWorks, studies show that the ASIST method helps reduce suicidal feelings in those at risk and is a cost-effective way to help address the problem of suicide. A 2013 study that monitored over 1,500 callers to crisis lines found that callers who spoke with ASIST-trained counselors were 74 percent less likely to be suicidal after the call, compared with callers who spoke with counselors trained in other methods.

The July ASIST training, open to anyone 18 or older, is free, but space is limited and registration is required. Interested individuals may register online at or by contacting Erica Orren at or 540-462-6639.

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