Participants of an ASIST training workshop in February 2017 pose for a photo. ASIST training, facilitated through Jewish Family Service of Metro Detroit in West Bloomfield, gives people the tools to identify people who are thinking of suicide and help get them the help they need.

Participants of an ASIST training workshop in February 2017 pose for a photo. ASIST training, facilitated through Jewish Family Service of Metro Detroit in West Bloomfield, gives people the tools to identify people who are thinking of suicide and help get them the help they need.

Photo provided by Debbie Feit


Jewish Family Service of Metro Detroit to host suicide prevention training

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 12, 2018

WEST BLOOMFIELD — More than 9 million adults in the United States consider suicide each year. In order to lessen that number, Jewish Family Service of Metro Detroit is teaching people how to intervene and potentially save a life. 

JFS is hosting a workshop called Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, in West Bloomfield in February. 

“I think that anyone can play a role when they participate in a training like this to help save a life,” said Erica Saum, director of family life and wellness with JFS. “Suicide is preventable, and it’s something that I think more people are struggling with than people realize.”

In this training, attendees will learn to understand how personal and societal attitudes affect views of suicide and interventions; how to provide guidance to a person at risk in order to get them to safety; and to identify effective safety plans and how to implement them. 

“People learn how to identify someone having thoughts of suicide, to understand, and how to listen to the story of that person and be able to come up with a plan for safety that can be carried out,” said Saum. 

Saum and co-facilitator Shevy Zigdon will lead the training. The two were trained with ASIST when they saw an increase in mental health needs at JFS. 

“I really do believe that this is a worthwhile training,” said Zigdon. “The more people we have trained and are aware of certain things, the better we’re able to create a healthy community.” 

Every staff member at JFS has been trained with ASIST in the past, and JFS has hosted a couple of previous ASIST trainings for the community. 

JFS offers a host of other programs. Mental Health First Aid is a program that talks about mental health in a broader way, and SafeTalk teaches people how to talk about suicide, but the training stops there. 

ASIST training goes one step further by getting people help. 

Anyone 16 and older is welcome to take part in ASIST training sessions, which will be held over a two-day period Feb. 19-20. 

JFS’ ASIST workshops are free. Attendees must register in advance at (248) 406-0076 or at szigdon@jfsdetroit.org.