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Ionia County Community Mental Health: Interventions at work

Ionia County Community Mental Health: Interventions at work

August 22, 2014

Weekend Edition - Ionia Sentinel-Standard

Written by: Kris Hamilton


Many feelings that we have about mental illness may stem from our own attitudes and experiences. Take suicide, for example. As a culture, we have a wide range of belief systems about why people take their own lives, whether it is right or wrong, and who is affected by it. Even people who are suicidal have attitudes about suicide.
When we are confronted with someone who is suicidal, we may not be sure how to handle it or how to help. Sometimes it's our very own belief systems that may be a barrier in intervening with someone who is at risk of taking his or her own life. Just being aware of these attitudinal barriers is helpful in making sure the individual who is at risk gets the help he or she needs.
There are "prevention" programs when dealing with suicide, such as teen awareness and gun safety classes. There are many "post-vention" activities for persons or their families who are affected by suicide, such as counseling or support groups. But what can we do as a helper for someone who is immediately at risk? This is an "intervention" activity, and often the most difficult for caregivers and professionals.
ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) is one of many approaches that focuses on "intervention." ASIST is an evidenced-based program that is taught for anyone who is ready, willing and able to help a person at risk of suicide. This global-wide training has been taught to transportation workers, school personnel, law enforcement and clergy, to name a few. It also is widely taught in all branches of the Armed Services.
Ionia County Community Mental Health supports this program locally, and has been teaching ASIST to the Ionia area community since 2011. Elizabeth Thelen, LMSW, CAADC and Kris Hamilton, MA, LPC, CAADC have both received extensive training hours to teach ASIST. These trainings are held at Ionia County CMH about three times a year.
If you are interested in learning more about ASIST or are interested in signing up for the next training, please contact Elizabeth or Kris at Ionia County CMH at 616-527-1790616-527-1790. We anticipate that the next training will be held in October or November.
Kris Hamilton is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is the Access Manager at Ionia County Community Mental Health and can be reached at

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