Help Break the Stigma Through Suicide Prevention

Let’s talk statistics.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death for persons aged 10-24. While these numbers are shocking, because of the stigma associated with suicide, the actual statistics are likely greater but currently suffer from false reporting.

Suicide is devastating to any individual, family and community, which is why there needs to be ample resources and understanding of how to prevent these tragedies from taking place. That’s what the team at the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House is setting out to do, because the isolation element of suicide touches on the core values of our organization.

The Friendship House offers support and guidance to individuals and families struggling with isolation and other life crises. Friendship House has recently expanded its offerings to include training in suicide prevention through LivingWorks’ ASIST program (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) through training sessions here at the Friendship House.

Friendship Circle and Friendship House are a unique host for this type of training because of the vast network of teenage volunteers that are members of our community, giving us the chance to tap into a pool of resources and build a peer network outside of our walls and field more advocates for assistance in suicide prevention.

suicide ASIST yarden

“It is really rewarding to know that there are people willing to take two full days out of their busy lives to learn a skill that can, and will, help others. The fact that people, teenagers specifically, are willing to do this shows on how prevalent and real suicide is.” – Rabbi Yarden Blumstein

Meeting the Core Values

Started by LivingWorks, ASIST is for everyone 16 or older—regardless of prior experience—who wants to be able 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 community.

Rabbi Yarden Blumstein of the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House is certified in the ASIST program to aid those in need and is working toward becoming a certified trainer to interested parties in learning how to help prevent suicide.

suicide ASIST training february 2016

Jewish Family Service (JFS) hosted Rabbi Blumstein’s training in the program, where he discovered that training touched on Friendship House’s core values, so he decided to bring ASIST to Friendship House in order to train others in learning about how to prevent suicide.

Skylar Watnick, a Friendship Circle volunteer and attendee of the first training session hosted at Friendship House, said “It’s so meaningful to advocate for the ASIST training and UMatter at a community event because everyone comes together to achieve the same goal: caring for each other.”

Real World Application

The key elements of suicide prevention are: How to identify, engage and take to a place of safety.

To put the program’s effectiveness in perspective, the first training session hosted by Friendship House in May of 2015 with 17 teenage participants in the program. Since then, the trained teens were able to conduct five preventions in their community and empowered those individuals to seek help in a safe place.

suicide ASIST february 2016

Brandon Rothenberg, a Friendship Circle volunteer and youth group leader said “It was really cool to see the looks on kids faces when we were up there talking. I could tell that they were deeply involved in what we had to say.”

Here at Friendship House, we’re working towards three goals:

  • Help create members in the prevention community
  • Break the stigma of suicide
  • Empower people to help

You Can Make a Difference

In the future, the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House, with the help of the Schulman Millennium Fund, will be conducting two-day ASIST trainings for teens to teach effective intervention skills while helping to build suicide prevention networks in the community.

For more information about the program, contact Rabbi Yarden Blumstein at (248) 788-7878 ext. 208 or at [email protected].

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