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ASIST suicide prevention training moves to AllHealth Network

By Celeste McNeil

AllHealth Network is a nonprofit organization founded in 1955 as a community mental health center. Today they have 11 locations in Arapahoe and Douglas counties. AllHealth Network provides mental health and substance use treatment for people of all ages, as well as behavioral health and crisis services.

Colorado consistently ranks in the top 10 for suicide deaths nationally. LivingWorks Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a two-day training program available to the public, with the goal of helping families, friends and neighbors who are struggling.

“ASIST is an evidence-based and best practice suicide intervention skills training that is suited for anyone over the age of 16,” stated Lauren Childress, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) public information officer. “This is the training offered in the military and for anyone working on crisis lines.”

DCSO has offered the in-person workshops five times a year since 2009, but due to budget cuts, DCSO recently partnered with AllHealth Network to facilitate workshops. Roughly half of the seats have been filled by Douglas County School District (DCSD) mental health employees.

“All of our mental health professionals are required to take ASIST. This includes school counselors, social workers and psychologists. Other district staff also have the opportunity to take this training. Additionally, parents/guardians and community members are encouraged to take this training” stated Stephanie Crawford-Goetz, DCSD director of mental health intervention. The remaining seats have been made available to the public.

“ASIST is a two-day, face-to-face workshop featuring powerful audiovisuals, discussions and simulations. Participants learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive,” stated Jennifer Morris, from AllHealth Network. Public feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and each session has been filled with a waiting list.

The September and October courses have been postponed for public safety and will not be presented virtually. DCSD is continuing to train its employees internally in both ASIST and SafeTALK (Suicide Alertness For Everyone; Tell, Ask, Listen, Keep safe) training.

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