Tobyhanna’s Employee Services Center Draws Awareness to Suicide Prevention

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and members of Team Tobyhanna have many resources available to them and their families at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD).

One such resource is the Employee Services Center (ESC), which is available 24/7 via the ESC Hotline at (570) 615-5591 for immediate assistance. The ESC offers brief, solution-focused counseling to help employees or their families balance the struggles they may be having.

When someone calls the Hotline, ESC personnel will confirm if the person in need is a threat to themselves or anyone else. If they are, emergency first responders will be called to get them immediate assistance. ESC personnel ask the same who, what, when, where, and why questions to all who call in so they can learn what the individual is doing and where they are. They make sure to stay engaged in the conversation and try to obtain crucial information that can be used to ensure safety. When the crisis is over, ESC personnel work with the individual to connect them to community resources.

In an effort to better the community around them, the ESC works to promote educational awareness, conducts annual training, normalizes conversations about suicide, and runs a Peer 2 Peer Proactive Education Program. These are all great resources that provide beneficial training for mental health and suicide awareness.

The Peer 2 Peer Program is designed to train employees on mental health, substance abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and suicide prevention to better understand the signs and symptoms of each. Once employees are trained, they receive a yellow lanyard that will allows other employees to identify them as a person they can talk to about what may be bothering them. If more assistance is needed, Peers can escort the employee to the ESC or call 911 to get them immediate assistance.

Currently, the ESC is preparing a training called LivingWorks ASIST. ASIST stands for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. The training is a two-day face-to-face workshop featuring powerful audiovisuals, discussions, and simulations. Participants learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive. Three ESC employees recently received certification to conduct the workshop and will schedule trainings for the Tobyhanna community in the upcoming months.

ESC personnel caution that the signs of suicide are not black and white. They are complex and can look different depending on the person. Suicidal thoughts can occur to anyone, even if they do not have any mental health illnesses. Statistics show that about 5 percent of the United States population are having suicidal thoughts at any given time. Showing others empathy and letting them know they are not alone is a huge step in letting those with suicidal thoughts know their thoughts are common and treatable.

ESC Supervisor Ricardo Horn said that people with suicide thoughts are often in pain, isolated, and unsure of what to do. “Asking a person if they are thinking about suicide shows them you care and that there may be another option. Although it is an uncomfortable question to ask, it just may save a life.”

Becoming more informed about suicide can help prevent it. Looking for the signs and letting others know they are not alone is important.