NEWS | Feb. 26, 2016

1st MSC Soldiers attend ACE-SI and ASIST training

By Courtesy Story 1st Mission Support Command

FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico - Ask, Care, and Escort –Suicide Intervention (ACE-SI) and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) are widely used suicide prevention courses that walk you through the prevention process. Packed with vital information, ACE and ASIST courses are definitely an asset, not only for military personnel but for civilians as well. These detailed training programs educate participants on how to deal with a person at risk of suicide and also guides them on how to help guide the person at risk to a safer place in terms of a mindset. Participants gain a broader perspective on what suicide actually is. 

During a three day course, 32 Soldiers from the 1st Mission Support Command, participated in ACE-SI and ASIST training at the 1st MSC Headquarters, Fort Buchanan, PR, Feb. 23-25. 

 “ASIST training is very complete and helpful in itself,” said Spc. Anthony MartinezHaddock from the 941st Quartermaster Company in Salinas, Puerto Rico. “If I had to briefly describe ASIST, I’d say it is life changing. I totally recommend it to every soldier that has the will to care about people at risk of taking their life.”

Soldiers within the command were given the opportunity to be a part of the training and are now considered Suicide Prevention Liaisons for their respective units. This training certifies the participants and enables them to provide ASIST training to their unit to fulfill unit requirements. 

“Before I came here, I didn’t know what to expect about the training and I actually ended up loving it,” said Spc. Sibeliz M. Massas from 756th Engineer Company in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. “I expect to be helpful to whoever might need it, within the unit or outside of the Army. This training gave me a lot of tools that I didn’t have. I learned to ask direct questions regarding suicide, that is one of the most difficult things they teach you here and that nobody knew or even guessed it was a key on ASIST training."

Suicide has become a problem within our military ranks and often time’s leaders may wonder what they could have done in order to prevent a suicide. “One suicide is one too many,” said Brig. Gen. Jose R. Burgos, commanding general for the 1st MSC. “It is very important that you take the skills you are learning and apply them in real life, not only in the military but with your friends or family that may be at risk. Be aware of the cries for help that may appear on Facebook or other social media platforms.”

A main focus for the training is getting the participants to really understand what the suicide thought process is. 

“Participants get a deeper connection on what suicide means and how that person at risk really feels in that moment,” said Mr. Chad P. Grieser, ASIST training instructor. “They gain a better understanding on how to approach that person and the situation from the feeling of the person at risk”

“ASIST gives you a new pair of glasses so you can see the person at risk, identify the factors, you can actually be a person that can change what the person at risk is feeling and seeing at that moment if he or she allows you to.” Said Mr. Jose Gonzalez, Suicide prevention program Manager at the 1st Mission Support Command.

Both programs, particularly the ASIST training, can be helpful and useful on a daily basis for Soldier’s. You may be surrounded by battle buddies that are going through difficult situations like losing a comrade in combat or having problems sustaining a family. At the same time, it can be used with normal civilian life struggles. For instance working long hours or experiencing depression because they feel lonely. These programs are made available to every soldier and the time invested on these particular programs are completely worth it. 

The ACE-SI Program is a three-hour training that provides Soldiers with the awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to intervene with those at risk for suicide. ACE stands for Ask, Care, and Escort. The purpose of ACE is to help Soldiers and junior leaders become more aware of steps they can take to prevent suicides and confident in their ability to do so. ACE encourages Soldiers to directly and honestly question any battle buddy who exhibits suicidal behavior. The battle buddy should ask a fellow Soldier whether he or she is suicidal, care for the Soldier, and escort the Soldier to the source of professional help. This training helps Soldiers avoid letting their fears of suicide govern their actions to prevent suicides.

 ASIST is available to soldiers regardless of rank who want to provide suicide first aid. Shown by major studies to significantly reduce suicidality, the ASIST model teaches effective intervention skills while helping to build suicide prevention networks in the military community. Developed in 1983 and regularly updated to reflect improvements in knowledge and practice, ASIST is the world’s leading suicide intervention workshop. During the two-day interactive session, soldiers learn to intervene and help prevent the immediate risk of suicide.