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Preventing Suicide Among the TR Ranks

Preventing Suicide Among the TR Ranks
Jeremy Bersin

Jeremy is a Bostonian by way of Connecticut and serves as the Deputy Communications Manager for Region 1. His full-time gig is with Boston Emergency Medical Services.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Data Report, 2012, “An estimated 22 veterans will have died from suicide each day in the calendar year 2010.” Extrapolate that, and you get over 8,000 veteran suicides annually, a number far too large to not act.

With those statistics in mind, Region 1 wrapped up June 2014 with a weekend-long Applied Suicide Interventions Skills Training (ASIST) where about 20 volunteers assembled in Farmington, CT. Organized by Clay Hunt Fellow Ryan Ginty, the class was taught by Region 6 Resource Manager Klebe Brumble, TR HQ Clinicial Specialist Dane Frost, and TR Program Operations Associate Amanda Burke.

Recognizing vets and first responders don’t necessarily enjoy sitting in a classroom for 12 hours, the training provided a combination of classroom time and practical exercises. Air Force veteran Lourdes Tiglao said, “The role playing portion drove the gravity and seriousness home for many of the participants as to how pervasive the feeling of isolation can be for persons at risk.”

veterans_suicide prevention_team rubicon

While the ASIST model of intervening on a person at risk is meant to be a first responder style of suicide intervention to be used by anyone in any situation, TR hopes those trained on the ASIST model can aid our members in times of crisis.

“Team Rubicon plays a crucial role, not only in disaster response, but in veteran reintegration,” Tiglao said.

Region 2 Program Operations Manager Todd Adrian added, “The experience gained during the classroom training and role playing exercises improves my readiness and confidence in being able to respond to crisis situations, whether during deployments, within our region, or with friends and family.”

The training was made even more valuable by the bonds forged throughout the weekend. It provided our team with an opportunity to get to know each other in a capacity we typically don’t experience during deployments.

Adrian said, “In true TR fashion, members from different regions came together and shared personal experiences with suicide, practiced ASIST skills, and enjoyed camaraderie that transitioned a group of 20 strangers into friends over the course of a weekend.”

  • anita

    Wow, I am blown away by those statistics! Thank you TR for standing in the breech and taking practical steps to lessen the number of these tragic deaths.

  • Polter Geist

    Huh, so if this training is only offered to region level personnel and not to average TR grunts, how is this ASIST support designed to be effective in the field if ASIST regional staff aren’t deployed?

    • ASIST courses are available for any member of Team Rubicon. In fact, we are wrapping up a two-day session in Los Angeles today where more than 30 volunteers from Region 9 were in attendance.

      • Polter Geist

        That’s super for R-9, but why wasn’t that information broadcasted TR Wide?