ASIST 11 Information

What is ASIST 11?

Since its creation in 1983, ASIST has undergone numerous updates to reflect the latest research and feedback from the suicide prevention community. ASIST 11 became the current version of ASIST in June 2013. While older versions of ASIST still provide proven life-saving skills, ASIST 11 features several significant upgrades. For those trained in ASIST 10 or an earlier version, signing up for an ASIST 11 training is recommended. In the meantime, here is a quick overview of some of the differences, and a guide to how those trained in ASIST 10 or earlier versions can work with those trained in ASIST 11:

Working with ASIST 11-trained caregivers

ASIST 11 is fundamentally the same as any version of ASIST, and remains true to ASIST principles. If you need to work or consult with people who have taken ASIST 11, expect them to:

  • be open, honest and direct about suicide,
  • exercise care in expressing their own values about suicide,
  • do whatever they can to respect a person at risk’s decision-making rights,
  • appreciate the importance of letting the person at risk talk about suicide,
  • appreciate that some part of a person at risk wants to live,
  • value collaboration with the person at risk,
  • consider things that might threaten the person at risk’s safety,
  • develop a plan that fits the immediate safety needs of the person at risk, and,
  • make sure that the person at risk understands the plan and is committed to carrying it out.

Fundamentally the same—but fundamentally better

While ASIST interventions should remain fundamentally the same, ASIST 11 is also significantly better than previous versions of ASIST.

ASIST 11 uses a three-phase model with six tasks, and has a similar appearance to the Suicide Intervention Model. However, ASIST 11’s model is so different that it has a new name, Pathways for Assisting Life (or PAL for short). Helpers using PAL will seem to have an ease with letting a person at risk talk about suicide, a knack for helping a person at risk discover life connections. and a talent for turning those connections into reasons for working on safety-for-now. You might be surprised at how easily they seem to do these things.

PAL uses a Safety Framework that integrates the literature on risk with the emerging literature on safety. You will see some similarities in the things being considered but some differences. Most of all, you will see a positive, transparent focus upon creating safety for now along with both more clarity and more flexibility in how to achieve it. You may discover them extolling the virtues of a safety perspective much like you might talk about the value of the invitations perspective—which, by the way, remains very much a part of ASIST 11.

Two of the new helping tools featured in ASIST 11 are related to helper guidance and helper roles. Expect ASIST 11 helpers to typically have a good understanding of the value of flexible guidance as well as a good understanding of the implications of the relationship they have with the person at risk. You might expect them to say things that cause you to think about your understanding of guidance and role.

Improvements and transition

These improvements might cause confusion in organizations that use protocols based upon older versions of ASIST. The best solution to these potential problems is to train participants of these older versions in ASIST 11. Protocols may need to be amended to reduce confusion during the interim period.

Despite the potential for some confusion in working with ASIST 11 helpers, they remain, like all ASIST helpers, good people trying to do the best they know how. Expect ASIST 11 helpers to try to help you learn what they know—although they will often forget or not even recognize what it took to learn it. On the other hand, expect them to offer you all their support in finding opportunities to take ASIST 11. The ASIST learning experience remains pretty much as you remember it—only more so with ASIST 11. Small group support, time for sharing real experiences and feelings about suicide, and many opportunities to practice and watch others practice. That is what it takes to learn something this decidedly human—and it still does.

Upgrading to ASIST 11

Face-to-Face Upgrader sessions are listed under Find a Training. Active or reactivating ASIST trainers may opt to upgrade using our online eUpgrader learning module accessible through the trainer site. Military trainers requiring upgrader information may contact Glen Bloomstrom, Military Director.

Additional Reading