‘Anyone can help prevent suicide,’ says Meyerhoffer

Alexis Chicalas

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 years. A majority of those who have committed suicide or have thought about it have dealt with depression and or anxiety.

Many victims show signs of withdrawal, extreme mood swings, increase use of alcohol or drugs, recklessness, anxiety and even sleeping too much. Being aware of some of these signs, and more, could help prevent a suicide. 

ASIST, short for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, was initially developed in 1983 by LivingWorks and is the world’s leading suicide intervention training program. Over the years more than 2,000,000 people worldwide have taken the workshop. 

The training entails a two-day interactive workshop where individuals gain the skills and knowledge on how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, developing a safety plan and providing skilled intervention.

The workshop features presentations and guidance from two LivingWorks registered trainers, audiovisual learning aids, group discussions and more.  

Monday, Oct. 21, the Shawnee County Prevention Coalition and Washburn University paired up to host ASIST on campus at the Memorial Union. The workshop is held 2-3 times a year and is free to both students and faculty as well as residents of Shawnee county.  

Candyce Halstead, a senior majoring in social work, is grateful that the ASIST program is offered here on campus and is available to the student body. Halstead learned of the two-day training program from a friend who had participated in the event the previous year. 

It is important to have suicide training because having those thoughts are more common than you think. Depression and anxiety are common struggles among young adults so learning prevention methods is important… having these types of trainings is important,” said Halstead. 

Emily Meyerhoffer, a counselor at Washburn University, provides individual mental health counseling to students. Meyerhoffer is involved in the community outreach program at Washburn and provides presentations for WU 101 classes on stress management as well as promoting suicide prevention. Meyerhoffer has played a part in spreading awareness of the ASIST workshop around campus.  

“Suicide prevention is important to talk about because anyone can be part of preventing suicide,” said Meyerhoffer. “We want everyone to feel like they have the knowledge to recognize warning signs and have the power to act.” 

Shawnee County Prevention Coalition not only has visions for Washburn students and faculty but for Shawnee county at large and plans to continue offering the ASIST program. 

Edited by Adam White, Wesley Tabor, Brianna Smith