Workshops part of National Suicide Prevention Week

by Kenneth Koon, Special to Times-Herald

Armed Forces Mission and the Master Resilience Institute is launching the Courageous Project as part of our AFM Campaign to Restore Hope.

We will offer two workshops in the Coweta-Fayette communities during National Suicide Prevention Week. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training is an intensive two-day workshop that increases awareness and skills to provide personal intervention for those at risk. Additionally, a two-hour introduction to the risk of impaired resilience will be offered on Sept. 11.

Every year more than 39,000 Americans die by their own hand. In my work, with more than 22,000 soldiers, I have come to an awareness that has led me to believe that for many people in both military and civilian settings well-being is an illusion. More than once I have heard the words, “I didn’t see this coming. He seemed to be living the American dream.”

Certainly all the trappings of the good life can for a time add to the illusion, but ultimately it can only distort the reality for so long that without resilience there is no well-being at all; it is indeed a dream. Workshops offered by Armed Forces Mission’s Master Resilience Institute seek to train individuals from all walks of life in the skills to save those at risk. Additionally, our workshops offer CE credit for nurses and mental health professionals. We are also pleased to announce that CE credit is now available for personal fitness trainers through the American Council on Exercise.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the Master Resilience Institute began doing a one question survey of fitness trainers from local gyms. The one question we asked: In order to maintain your certification as a trainer would you take a course on suicide intervention? Admittedly, we got several deer in the headlight looks, as if no one that goes to the gym would ever think of suicide, but once we helped these trainers understand that every year one in 20 people have thoughts of suicide and some of them are probably their clients then the light came on. One trainer chimed in, saying, “Now that I think about it, most the time I feel like a therapist.” That’s right, and so do the barber and the beautician. But with fitness trainers even more so, because it’s the nature of what they do. They get close to people. They are there to help others look good, feel better or improve an area of their lives. They are in a perfect position to see the warning signs.

A trainer who is aware of the issues that negatively impact resilience and possesses the skills to intervene might just be a lifesaver for a client that is walking on the edge. The fact is, resilience is fundamental to total well-being and exercise is fundamental to resilience. When coupled with the encouragement of a positive role model it is a powerful life giving force for those who are focused on death. But sometimes, “one more rep” is not what a person needs to hear. Sometimes a person needs someone who can see beyond the illusion of well-being and has the courage to ask the tough question that very few are willing to ask. Fitness trainers are required to have CPR skills. It only stands that they should also have skills in crisis intervention for those at risk of suicide. It’s a natural fit for coaches and trainers in a field where personal well-being of others is the highest priority.

Pastors, too, are invited to participate in the training. I know that 28 years ago I received no training in suicide intervention as a seminary student and the surveys we have done of local pastors reveals the same. Many faithful church members move on to other churches or stop attending the faith community completely after the loss of a loved one by suicide. For some it may be because of their anger at God, but for many that I talk with it is because of the perceived response of the faith community. Suicide is a taboo word for much of the faith community and even today most seminaries do not require any formal training in suicide intervention before granting a master of divinity degree. At the Institute, we believe that proactive steps toward prevention and healing are much better than reactive responses to tragedy and grief.

Master Resilience Institute, the training division of Armed Forces Mission, was founded in short, to help people dream again, catch hold of vision, and move beyond where they are to a place that is life promoting and full of energy. The ancients understood the importance of vision when they said, “Without vision the people perish.” Resilience is the ability to bounce back from the events and challenges of life that often cloud one’s pursuit of the dream. It is the essential key to maintaining the vision until the dream becomes a reality.

We invite you to join us for a workshop during National Suicide Prevention Week. Together we can build resilience and restore hope for individuals, families and communities. To learn more or register for a workshop visit www.MasterResilience.com.

Suicide Prevention Week for 2014 is set for Sept. 8 through 14. Each year Fayette County experiences 8 to 12 suicides and Coweta experiences 12 to 16. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with one suicide occurring on average every 13.3 minutes. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds. Approximately 987,950 American attempt suicide each year. An estimated 4.8 million Americans are survivors of suicide of a friend, family member or loved one.

To arrange an interview or for future information, please contact me at 678-283-4293 or via email at ken@armedforcesmission.com .



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