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The workshop is for all caregivers (any person in a position of trust). This includes professionals, paraprofessionals and lay people. It is suitable for mental health professionals, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, teachers, counselors, youth workers, police and correctional staff, school support staff, clergy, and community volunteers. In ASIST, sophisticated helping concepts are translated into generic language so that different types of caregivers can learn together. Emphasizing structured small-group discussions and practice, the course uses a 20-page workbook and two award-winning audiovisuals. Participants receive a 152-page Suicide Intervention Handbook and a full color, tear-resistant pocket card featuring intervention, and risk review and safeplan development principles. They serve as living refreshers of the workshop learning. ASIST is the most widely used suicide intervention-training program in the world. (Additional information is available as a video clip online at http://www.livingworks.net/flash/asist.html)

The ASIST workshop is divided into five sections, each with defined goals that, in combination, produce individuals who are ready, willing and able to provide suicide “first aid”. 

1. Introduction – Preparing:

The goals of this section are as follows: (1) understand that the focus of this workshop is suicide first aid; (2) describe the need for caregivers to be able to do suicide first aid interventions; (3) describe why ASIST is a good way for caregivers to learn suicide first aid; (4) describe the goals and objectives of the workshop; (5) create awareness of the group’s experiences with suicidal behaviors; (6) know that group/individual participation are needed to make the workshop succeed.

2. Attitudes – Connecting:

The goals of this section are for participants to: (1) talk more openly about individual attitudes toward suicide and suicide first aid; (2) recognize how feelings about personal experiences with suicide might affect suicide first aid interventions; (3) identify beliefs that might make it difficult to be direct and comfortable in suicide situations. Identify beliefs that might be helpful in suicide first aid interventions.

3. Knowledge – Understanding:

The goal of this section is to begin preparing participants to use the Suicide Intervention Model (SIM) by understanding how SIM meets the intervention needs of persons at risk. By completing this section, participants will be able to: (1) recognize SIM as a tool for meeting the intervention needs of the person at risk; (2) name the six basic caregiver tasks of SIM and explain how these tasks address the concerns of a person at risk; (3) understand how to use the Risk Review and Safeplan Guide.

4. Intervention Skills – Assisting:

The goal of this section is to help participants feel more ready, willing, and able to assist a person at risk. By completing this section, participants will be able to: (1) recognize SIM as a tool that helps participants combine attitudes, knowledge and intervention skills in order to provide suicide first aid; (2) understand SIM; (3) use SIM to help a person at risk of suicide.

5. Resources – Networking:

The goal of this section is to have participants commit to help with the networking of their community. By completing this section, participants will be able to: (1) complete the identification of existing community resources; (2) be optimistic about the possibility of building resource networks for persons at risk of suicide; (3) understand how ASIST supports the development of resource networks; (4) recognize the value of personal resource networks and other self-care ideas for caregivers.

Course Activities—the ASIST workshop has been developed using the principles of adult-learning. The following are the core training processes and activities used in ASIST.

1. Lectures:

There are only two places in the workshop in which the lecture format is used for any long period of time.

2. Mini-lectures:

Mini-lectures are information pieces that take only a few minutes to present. They are used in the Understanding section, in presenting the summaries of the whole group simulations, and for the ending of the workshop in the Networking section.

3. Open-ended questioning:

Open-ended questions are used to start discussions. They are used in the Connecting section.

4. Socratic questioning:

Socratic questions are used to help the participants appreciate the value of their individual and collective understanding of suicide.

5. Simulation experiences:

There are a number of simulation experiences in ASIST, both in whole group and work group settings. Throughout these simulations, participants have the opportunity to intervene with a trainers and participants role-playing persons at risk for suicide by practicing the SIM in various ways.

6. Running simulations:

A running simulation is a special type of simulation that is regularly stopped to give time for questions, comments, and discussions. The two simulations in the Understanding section are of this type.

7. Commenting through restatements and summaries:

Comments can be helpful to add to the learning process. The purpose of the restatements and summaries is to help participants integrate learning.

Required Texts, Readings, and Instructional Resources. ASIST Workbook. Intervention model wallet cards. Audiovisual demonstrations of Suicide First Aid Intervention Suicide Intervention Handbook.

Implementation of Skills:

By utilizing the above training processes throughout the ASIST workshop, participants are able to see, hear, and learn the information and skills needed to provide suicide first aid. They have the opportunity to practice these skills in both large group and small workgroup formats by the end of the course.

Is regular re-training required?

Some organizations have specific requirements concerning re-training for retaining skills and/or status. If you took your initial ASIST workshop through an organization, inquire with that organization first. Generally, ASIST TuneUp, a half-day training refresher, is suggested within three years of the ASIST workshop, with the full two-day ASIST workshop to be re-taken every five years.

Evaluation of ASIST:

The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop has undergone extensive evaluation in Canada, United States, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Australia and Norway. ASIST is regarded as evidenced based (Macro International (2008) Cross-site Evaluation of the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Program, Training Utilization and Penetration Interviews (TUP): Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), January 29-30, 2008. Salem: Oregon Department of Human Services) and as reflecting best practices (Best Practices for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center in the United States). Further evaluation information can be obtained on the LivingWorks website at www.livingworks.net.

LivingWorks local training dates