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SafeTALK  Training program’s goal is suicide prevention
Chaplain Seligman leads the SafeTALK suicide prevention class at the Fishbowl Student Center, July 29. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)
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SafeTALK: Training program's goal is suicide prevention

Posted 8/6/2008   Updated 8/6/2008 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez
Keesler Public Affairs

8/6/2008 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- In the quiet, darkened main room of the Levitow Training Support Facility, a young technical school student, surrounded by his peers, relates a story of someone he knew who was thinking about suicide. 

According to its Web site, the SafeTALK suicide-prevention program now being used by the Air Force teaches participants to recognize and engage persons who might be having thoughts of suicide and to connect them with community resources specializing in suicide intervention. 

Keesler recently started to offer this three-hour program to all members, including technical training students, 1-4 p.m. every Tuesday at the Fishbowl Student Center. 

"The Air Force has been using the program since April when the first 20 trainers were trained," said Chaplain (Capt.) Charles Seligman, 81st Training Wing. "Keesler has a great opportunity to learn this training," he added. 

The program consists of a four-step process for people to use when they know or suspect someone is contemplating suicide. TALK, said Chaplain Seligman, stands for tell, ask, listen and keepsafe. 

"When we think suicide's a possibility, bring it up, get it out in the open and then keep the person safe until you can contact the appropriate help, such as mental health, the chapel staff, or the first sergeant" said Chaplain Seligman. 

Though the training is still in its infancy here at Keesler, Chaplain Seligman has already been able to reach some 300 Airmen. 

"We've received positive feedback from all of the students," said Chaplain Seligman. "I get a lot of students who want to come up and talk to me after the training about particular situations involving people they know or even family members. I know (the training) is doing some good," he added. 

An integral part of the training appears to be the removal of the awkward feeling some people can have when talking about suicide. 

"I found that one of the benefits of the class was that I'm more comfortable with word 'suicide'both hearing and using it," said Airman Basic Cole Christensen, a student with the 336th Training Squadron who recently attended one of the training sessions. 

The training program, by virtue of its location, has already touched a large number of students - an appropriate audience according to some attendees. 

"This is still a training environment," said Airman Christensen. "It's stressful like (basic military training) and we're also making a huge transition in our lives here." 

For more information about SafeTALK, call Chaplain Seligman on 377-2331 or Staff Sgt. Lauren Hardee on 376-0385.

10/17/2009 3:49:25 AM ET
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training is unique way to help multiple personnel on a postbaseship to become an intervener and to help get a person the help they need to deal with their own issues that push them to harm themselves. The Living Works program beyond the training program is a way to de-mystify and make real the possibility that each person can be a source of caregiving to those at risk. Others need to become caregivers because our society has not proliferated the skill of community-building charity.
Ch Lt Col Gary R. Breig, Al Dhafra AB UAE
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