Combatting Suicide: Luke AFB hosts ASIST workshop

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dominic Tyler
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
According to the Department of Defense annual report on suicide in the U.S. military, 492 active, reserve, and national guard service members died by suicide in 2022. The DoD actively addresses suicide awareness with transparency, accountability, and commitment; building on efforts to combat suicide by highlighting effective suicide prevention and intervention methods, while extinguishing stigmas around service members receiving mental health support.

In accordance with these efforts, the Luke Air Force Base Chaplain Corps worked alongside the 56th Fighter Wing Integrated Resiliency Office to host an Applied Suicide Intervention Skill Training workshop, June 11, 2024, at Luke AFB, Arizona.

This two-day workshop is designed to inform the community on suicide intervention by equipping Airmen with the necessary skills to connect, understand, and assist a person who may be at risk for suicide.

The intervention skills taught allow certified ASIST graduates, from the lowest enlisted to the highest officer, to talk with a member considering the choice of suicide.

“ASIST is not your typical suicide awareness or prevention training,” said Capt. Jeffrey Rybold, 56th Fighter Wing Maintenance Group chaplain. “The certified ASIST member has the training and tools to effectively talk to a member about suicide and, with an elevated chance of success, help the member turn their back to the consideration of suicide to a point of hope and a future life.”

ASIST is a workshop provided to USAF Chaplain Corps and religious affairs Airmen before they arrive at their first duty station. This training has impacted over two-million people worldwide and has been proven to increase positive outcomes for personnel at risk of suicide.

Upon completion, a green first-aid recognition tab is authorized for graduates to identify members in the community who are trained in suicide intervention skills.

“Trust and familiarity are essential for the Airmen you see day-in and day-out to have the ability to seek help when they need it,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, 56th Fighter Wing command chief. “After this workshop, you can take what you’ve learned back to your people and let them know you are there to help.”

Recent success from this program was evident at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where in 2022, they had seven deaths by suicide. After the implementation of ASIST in 2023-2024, they have dropped the number of deaths by suicide to zero.

Col Raymond Boyer, 56th Fighter Wing Chaplain explains that the Chaplain Corps intends to expand ASIST across the installation, equipping as many Airmen as possible with the tools to make Luke AFB a more informed community on suicide intervention.

The ASIST workshop is one way Luke AFB integrates mental health support into the everyday mission, prioritizing the health and morale of Airmen and honoring the memory of those lost to suicide.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out to any of the Luke AFB resources including the chaplain (623-856-6211), Military and Family Life Consultant (623-759-0094), the mental health clinic (623-856-7579), or call the Suicide Prevention Crisis Line (800-273-8255 or 988).