Mind Cymru now provides the internationally recognised Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. ASIST was developed in 1983 by Living Works in Canada, and is now widely used in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland and Norway. It is the most widely used and researched suicide intervention skills training in the world, with countless evaluation studies and feedback from over 750,000 participants. ASIST is central to the National Suicide and Self Harm Reduction Action Plan for Wales, a decision based on its successful roll out as part of the national suicide prevention strategies of Scotland, Ireland and Norway.
In Wales the training has attracted a wide range of participants from Community Mental Health Teams, Teachers, Social Services, Youth Offending Teams, Housing Support Services, GPs, Fire and Ambulance Services, Police, Nurses, Midwives, Coastguards, University Porters, Receptionists, individuals concerned for family and friends, and many more. Polls taken during the workshops have revealed that while 63 per cent of participants have experience of helping someone who is thinking of suicide, less than 7 per cent have received any formal training in suicide intervention.
An important component of the training is to both prepare and protect workers who can find themselves working with someone who is feeling suicidal; this is a traumatic experience that can leave a permanent and damaging legacy. It feels like a huge responsibility that can cause a lot of stress and worry - often workers will not know where to turn for help, and feel out of their depth. This can mean they are more at risk of stress and burn out, which in turn can lead to increased rates of staff on extended sick leave and higher rates of staff turnover - these two factors alone can place enormous strain on our public services.