One of the required trainings all VIC staff complete is ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). It’s an interactive workshop where participants recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will ensure their safety. We want to make sure all of our staff are equipped with the right resources and training to help someone in need.
Recently, our Community Support Shuttle team were on their normal route and stopped outside St Martin’s for a pick-up. Our Peer Support Specialist, Robin, began to talk to a potential rider (we will call him “Derek”) who was requesting to be dropped off at Lovelace Hospital. The Shuttle operates a fixed route and the closest they could get him was 1st and Lomas, leaving Derek to find a way to get to the Hospital, about 2 miles away. Robin noticed Derek didn’t seem happy and asked him how he was doing and he said he was “ok”, but then requested the number to the suicide hotline. Following the steps learned in ASIST, Robin knew immediately what she should do. She asked Derek if he was thinking about suicide and when he responded he was “going to commit suicide by jumping under a city bus or hanging myself” she knew it was vital to develop a safety plan. Developing a safety plan is part of ASIST and helps the person stay safe (and those around them) while they wait to get the help they need.
Derek mentioned he was new to Albuquerque and was hearing voices that were telling him what to do. Robin spoke to Ron, our Shuttle driver, and told him it was imperative they change the route to take Derek to Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless (AHCH). While on their way to AHCH, Robin told Derek she wanted to ensure he was safe and by taking him to AHCH where he could speak to a licensed counselor who could help get him to the help he needed. Robin walked in with Derek and explained the situation to Charles, an AHCH employee. Charles told Derek he could be seen by a counselor and be taken to the hospital if needed. One of the AHCH counselors spoke to both Robin and Derek. Robin wanted to make sure the counselor knew about the situation and how they developed a safety plan, but most importantly she wanted to make sure Derek knew he was a safe. He agreed and when Robin left him, she knew he would get the help he so desperately needed.
Without Robin and Ron’s quick thinking intervention, and using the skills they learned from ASIST, we can’t help but wonder what could have happened to Derek. We’re happy to report Derek received the help he needed by the caring staff at Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, and were able to assist him with transportation to be with his family support system.