CALDWELL, NJ — Following an initial suicide prevention training class at Caldwell University on July 19, Caring Contact is offering a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) on Tuesday, July 26, and Wednesday, July 27 in an effort to leave participants with hands-on skills to intervene in the case of someone feeling suicidal or demonstrating suicidal warning signs.

Caring Contact, an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline and listening community, is offering these classes to the public and stated that they are especially ideal for educators, parents, first responders, social workers, counselors, clergy, business managers and community group leaders.

“There are a lot of people out there who are hurting and ‘suicide’ is like a four-letter word in our society that you’re not supposed to talk about,” said Caring Contact Executive Director Joanne Oppelt. “Oftentimes people who are feeling lonely and depressed and anxious don’t have anywhere to turn. I think that by training the everyday person to deal with the everyday person, it’s a way to help people with where they are and then being able to bring them in to get more resources if needed.”

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Caring Contact provides active-listening support and “best-in-class” training to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. More than 200 trained volunteer listeners take more than 15,000 calls per year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely.

On July 19, the hotline hosted a Mental Health First Aid training in Caldwell that taught participants the risk factors, warning signs and symptoms for a range of mental-health problems and how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Upon completion of the eight-hour training, participants earned a three-year Mental Health First Aid certification.

ASIST, on the other hand, is an internationally acclaimed two-day interactive training program in suicide first aid. On July 26 and 27, participants will develop hands-on skills to intervene in the case of someone feeling suicidal or demonstrating suicidal warning signs.

The class will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day at Aquinas Hall Building #3 on the Caldwell University campus, located at 120 Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell. Training is being offered at a community-member rate of 50 percent off, or $150, with no charge to hotline volunteers.

To register, visit www.caringcontact.org/trainings/ASIST.

According to Caring Contact, the suicide rate in the United States has been increasing every year since 1999, rising more than 24 percent between 1999 and 2014. Every 13.7 minutes, someone in the United States dies by suicide. Research has shown that suicide-prevention training results in a stable and significant increase in a trainee's readiness to intervene with a person at risk. 

Caring Contact serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey.

Callers also reach Caring Contact by dialing 1-908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741. To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org.