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Suicide prevention training coming to Fayette County

A local organization aiming to combat suicide among America’s veterans is branching out to help fight suicide in Fayette County, particularly among young people.

Armed Forces Mission of Tyrone will offer a two-day course to train community leaders to use Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) to help those who may be thinking of suicide, according to AFM Executive Director Kenneth Koon, an Army Reserve Chaplain living in Sharpsburg.

“The goal is to train concerned individuals throughout the community to be gatekeepers who are prepared to intervene on behalf of those who exhibit the signs of suicidal ideation,” Koon said. The effort is looking for participants who may be educators, medical personnel, law enforcement, coaches, human resource directors, pastors and “any concerned citizen with a desire to restore hope and save lives.”

The course will be conducted Monday, March 25 through Tuesday, March 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Fayetteville First Baptist Church. Enrollment is limited to the first 30 participants and the registration fee is $100; to sign up visit www.iwillintervene.com.

“It is our belief that reducing suicide will take the work of leadership at all levels and settings, both military and civilian, from workplace to home, and the collaborative efforts of concerned individuals throughout the community,” Koon said. “In these difficult days for so many, we invite individuals from all walks of life to get the training and develop the skills that can help save the life of those struggling with thoughts of suicide.”

Armed Forces Mission formed as a response to help members of the military as they transition back into civilian life. Former and current members of the military account for about 22 suicides each day, while more than 1,400 people under the age of 19 attempt suicide daily according to statistics supplied by AFM.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24. Meanwhile in the past four decades, suicide has increased more than 60 percent, according to statistics.

AFM has developed two websites to help increase public awareness about suicide. The first website, www.StandWithThem.com, is specifically related to reduction within the military and among veterans.

The second, Iwillintervene.com, is directed toward awareness within the total community. It is an initiative of Armed Forces Mission to serve the needs of the civilian community just as we serve our troops and veterans.

“The workshop is facilitated with the premise that suicide risk can be reduced and lives can be saved,” Koon said. “Three factors can save a life: increased awareness, a willingness to speak up, and the skill to intervene.”

It is also a matter of being attentive to things that others have to say too, Koon said.

For more information, visit www.iwillintervene.com.

AFM urges anyone who is having suicidal thoughts to seek help, particularly by calling the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800—273-TALK (8255).

AFM began as a way to help returning members of the armed forces with personal intervention, by training others to intervene on behalf of those in crisis and by conducting a public awareness and education campaign to draw attention to the plight of suicide among those who have served in the military.

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