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PEACE Office holds suicide prevention training

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - With more two-dozen suicides reported this year, the Department of Mental Health along with the PEACE Office are hoping to tackle this island issue with several training and workshops this month.

Following two Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training sessions this week, the PEACE Office is offering a three-hour Safetalk training to prepare anyone over the age of 15 to identify individuals with thoughts of suicide. ASIST trainer Michelle Sasomoto says participants will become suicide first aid lifeguards to assist those dealing with hardships.  

She noted, "Because it's one thing to be aware of what's going on with suicide and some of the data, but it's another thing to leave a training and actually have some skills that you could take away with you to save a person's life."

Between January and September of this year, there have been a reported 24 suicides mostly below the age of 35. Other data has shown that Chamorros ranks the highest of suicides with relationships and family problems as the top two indicators. "We're looking at males being the gender that is actually higher in the completion rates, but basically, again, there's more of the younger age group that we want to ensure that we're focusing on and targeting as well to help them," Sasamoto added.

Department of Mental Health director Wilfred Aflague says although those statistics may scare people, it's a reality the island must face where parents should communicate more with their children and offer support. "But I personally believe that parents need to be aware of some signs, signals from within their family, of a loved one, son or daughter contemplating suicide," he said. "All too often this goes back to the home environment and it may spill over to the school environment."

Safetalk and ASIST trainer Audrey Topasna says whether you're a licensed psychologist or a stay at home mom, you'll learn something new. "For those who are interested can go to our website, www.peaceguam.org," she stated. "All our training schedules are listed there, they can download our registration forms, we do ask that you do submit your registration form prior to the training that way we're aware of how many are attending, and we'll contacting you to reconfirm everything."

The Safetalk training is set for tomorrow 9am to 12:30pm on the 2nd Floor of the PEACE Office in the J&G Complex in Hagatna.

Since September, an additional six more suicides occurred in Guam - all were high school students.

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