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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 15:50 GMT
'I was there in the hour of need'
Caroline Farquhar is head of implementation at the Choose Life organisation. Here, she tells BBC Scotland's news website about how she was able to apply the techniques she learned on a suicide intervention course to two real life situations.

After joining Choose Life in 2004, I was lucky enough to experience ASIST - an applied training course in suicide intervention.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before I had to put these skills into practice.

caroline Farquhar
Caroline Farquhar put what she had learned into action very quickly
I was travelling on a busy train one evening when I caught the reflection of a young woman.

Obviously upset, she shook as she popped open packet after packet of tablets and swallowed them down.

ASIST teaches people to look out for signs of distress in others - this one couldn't have been more obvious.

I was concerned, so I approached the young lady and asked if she was ok.

I explained I worked in suicide prevention and quietly said "I am concerned for you. Can we go to the end of the carriage and talk?"

'I thought it strange'

Luckily, she agreed and explained her story of how she could see no way out, how she had planned to be dead before the train reached its destination.

I listened to her and together we decided on an action plan of support to keep her safe and she agreed to call Breathing Space - Scotland's free, confidential helpline for individuals experiencing low mood and depression.

Depressed man
Those doing the course are taught to spot the signs of suicide

The second time I was able to put my skills into action I was travelling north on a coastal train approaching a station.

From the train window I caught a figure of a man standing by the sheer edge of a cliff face.

He was looking down, standing still. I thought it was strange because he wasn't walking a dog or dressed for walking.

Because of the ASIST training I had a heightened awareness of people who may be at risk of suicide. The train pulled into the station and I quickly alerted the transport police.

They ran to action immediately, found the man and managed to bring him to safety.

Happy ending

I later found out that the man had wished to complete suicide and now he, and his family, are grateful for the much needed help he is now receiving.

To date, there have been more than 400 two-day ASIST workshops throughout the country and nearly 8,500 participants trained in suicide intervention skills.

ASIST is for anyone wanting to learn how to spot the risk of suicide and provide immediate help to people in distress.

There are ASIST trainers in each local authority area in Scotland, organised by local area co-ordinators.

To find out about suicide prevention training in your area, contact your local co-ordinator from the Choose Life website on www.chooselife.net. For further help call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or Choose Life on 0141 240 2393

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