SafeTALK: New suicide prevention training offered at Hill

  • Published
  • By Todd Cromar
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- In a continued effort to take care of people and provide them with support programs, a new cadre of safeTALK instructors here are ready to offer suicide prevention training to those who want to help.

SafeTALK – Suicide Alertness For Everyone; Tell, Ask, Listen and KeepSafe – is a suicide prevention program designed to teach Airmen and Guardians, federal employees and family members to recognize people who might be having thoughts of suicide.

Through the safeTALK training sessions, people also learn how to connect the individual at risk to suicide first aid and intervention caregivers for assistance.

David Haltom, 75th Air Base Wing suicide prevention program manager, said the greatest protective factor against suicide is connectedness. Supportive peer-to-peer connections, like friends, family and co-workers of similar rank, age or life situation, are not only instrumental to proactive health and resilience, but also to prevention.

A review of a 2020 Suicide Analysis Board showed 50% of peers and 25% of family members were aware of the stressors that led to a friend or loved one’s death by suicide, but also that these individuals felt they were not able to help.

“Because we found that people in the best position to initially provide help often feel ill-equipped and overwhelmed, we wanted to provide those who are struggling with a cadre of trained volunteers equipped to answer the call,” Haltom said.

The safeTALK program at Hill began with 30 volunteers from across the base, each vetted by their unit leadership, attending a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training class, which taught them how to provide a skilled suicide intervention. Of those, 10 were chosen to be sent to a follow-on training course to become safeTALK trainers.

Staff Sgt. Gabriela Sylvester, 729th Air Control Squadron and certified safeTALK instructor, said the program is different from others, which primarily focus on a single person being available for assistance.

“By design, safeTALK is about creating an entire safety net of peers and co-workers who are educated about possible warning signs to look for along with more effective ways of approaching people,” Sylvester said. “It’s also about helping to make this topic a little less taboo, so that people understand it is okay to open up and talk about suicide.

“We want people to feel comfortable reaching out to others in distress so they know they are not alone,” she said. “We also want people to feel like if they’re in crisis themselves, they can reach out and get a listening ear and helping hand in return.”

In addition to Sylvester, Hill’s instructors are:

Chaplain (Capt.) Ammon Larsen, 75th Air Base Wing Chapel
2nd Lt. Jonathan Vicario, 75th Medical Group
Master Sgt. Daniel Smith, 388th Maintenance Squadron
Master Sgt. Leslie Clark, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Master Sgt. Adam Borjon, 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Joshua Bisek, 86th Figher Weapon Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Dominic Dizes, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group
Senior Airman Robert Anderson, 388th Operations Support Squadron
Tim Gill, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center

Four safeTalk classes (two options each day) will be offered to Team Hill personnel and families age 16 and older from 7:30-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and 29. Text SAVEALIFE to 94000 to register.

For additional program information, contact Haltom at 801-777-4557 or