On Tuesday November 11th the HSE Donegal marked a very special occasion. It celebrated the delivery of 100 ASIST workshops by one of its facilitators, Tommy Ronaghan.
ASIST which stands for Applied Suicide Interventions Skills Training was first introduced in Donegal in 2006 and has to date trained over 2,000 people in suicide first aid.
The aim of the two day interactive workshop is to create a suicide safer community. ASIST trains participants to reduce the immediate risk of suicide and increase the support for the person at risk.
The workshop provides opportunities to learn what a person at risk may need from others in order to keep safe and get more help. It encourages honest, open and direct talk about suicide as part of preparing people to provide suicide first aid.
ASIST is suitable for all kinds of caregivers – professional workers, volunteers, and people responding to family, friends and co-workers. Attendance at the two full days is essential.
November 11th marked delivery of Tommy’s 100th ASIST in the Donegal/Sligo/Leitrim area. Trained by the Livingworks team from Canada and the National Office of Suicide Prevention (NOSP) in 2007 Tommy reached this amazing milestone very quickly. His hard work and dedication to the ASIST programme is very obvious to those who attend his workshops.
Feedback from two recent participants: ”Thanks to Tommy I now feel more ready, willing and able to help someone at risk of suicide”.
“The pleasant delivery of the ASIST workshop and the professionalism of Tommy have made talking about a very tough subject easy”.
On approaching his 100th ASIST Tommy had no idea of the celebrations that were planned to honour his massive achievement. The venue was Finner Army Camp (Ballyshannon/Bundoran) and this was the 10th workshop held there since 2009. Finner Camp is the largest employer of under 25 year olds in the area and staff are very aware of the importance of being suicide alert. They have worked hard in recent years with the HSE in promoting a suicide safer community and run two ASIST workshops a year.
Those in attendance were ASIST facilitators Anne Gallagher and Bill Vaughan. John Meehan, National Senior Operations & Improvement Manager HSE , John Hayes, HSE Area Manager Donegal, Sarah Meehan Co-ordinator and facilitator ASIST, Charlie Haughey, Army Personnel Support Service Officer, Fr Alan, CF and 24 participants who completed the course.
John Hayes acknowledged the achievement and commitment of Tommy and the importance of continuing to deliver and promote a suicide aware community thus helping to reduce the stigma and taboo surrounding this difficult subject.
Charlie Haughey thanked Tommy for all his hard work and expressed gratitude at his continued dedication and said it was always a pleasure to work with him.
An emotional Tommy who for the first time ever was stuck for words said that he had enjoyed every ASIST workshop he delivered and that he was looking forward to the next 100!