Recognizing the importance of suicide prevention training and education and that anyone can make a difference, Johnny Chambers, Pastor of Common Ground Church, has organized an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid presented by the non-profit LivingWorks. The ASIST program is the world’s leading suicide intervention training program.
“Suicide touches so many different people, every walk of life,” Chambers said. “I have been blessed. Back in 2016, I took the two-day course when it was offered at the Coast Guard Station in Eastport. Everything [LivingWorks] teaches says that suicide is preventable and anyone can make a difference.” He said he has since used the skills learned to help save lives.
The ASIST program was developed in 1983 and has been implemented in multiple locations in the United States and internationally. The workshop includes audiovisual aids, discussions in large and small groups, and skills practice and development.
Participants in the training program learn to use a suicide intervention model to identify persons with thoughts of suicide, seek a shared understanding of reasons for dying and living, develop a safeplan based upon a review of risk, be prepared to do follow-up, and become involved in suicide-safer community networks.
Chambers said there is too much stigma around the topic of suicide. “It’s taboo, you don’t talk about it, you don’t dare bring it up because you could put the thought in somebody’s head, but that is such false and erroneous beliefs and statements that people have.”
The ASIST training program helps take the stigma away, he said. “When you start going through the course...the first steps towards suicide awareness are learned, how to appreciate talking openly about suicide and how talking about it can prevent it.”
ASIST is a resource for the whole community. According to Chambers, the training program is for “anybody and everybody” who is over the age of 16. “Teenagers will talk to their friends before their parents sometimes, educators are definitely part of our first line of defense, other religious leaders in the community, first responders, counselors...honestly, anyone can benefit from taking this course,” he said.
“The training really helps us get people from a place that is really, really dark and helps us turn the lights on so that darkness will go away. We want to promote a healthier, safer community. I grew up in Calais my whole life and to see people struggle with suicide...we want to bring hope to our community,” Chambers said.
The ASIST training will take place in Calais on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3, and space is limited. For more information and to register, contact Johnny Chambers at 207-904-9005 or [email protected].