USAF 60 AMW participates in VR suicide prevention training

23 February 2021 (Last Updated February 23rd, 2021 13:39)

The US Air Force (USAF) 60th Air Mobility Wing (60 AMW) at Travis Air Force Base (AFB) has participated in a virtual reality (VR) suicide prevention training programme.

USAF 60 AMW participates in VR suicide prevention training
The 60 AMW participants entered a scenario in which they interact with a person in ‘obvious emotional distress’. Credit: Oleg Afonin.

The US Air Force (USAF) 60th Air Mobility Wing (60 AMW) at Travis Air Force Base (AFB) has participated in a virtual reality (VR) suicide prevention training programme.

The VR 30-minute training test phase was held between 17 and 19 February.

It is aimed at enabling airmen to convince and support those that are emotionally distressed to seek help.

Air Mobility Command (AMC) Suicide Prevention programme manager Victor Jones said: “We believe this training will not only save lives but prepare our airmen for tough conversations that will build a more resilient force.”

Scott and Travis airforce bases (AFBs) were selected as ‘pilot bases’ for this initial training phase.

Base leadership, squadron commanders, superintendents and first sergeants participated in the virtual scenarios.

As part of the training, participants were tasked to convince the distressed person to seek help by asking appropriate questions.

AMC surgeon general brigadier general Norman West said: “We are excited and highly motivated to be the catalyst for this innovative suicide prevention programme.

“The VR scenario is very realistic and this is the type of training we need to save lives in the real world. One life lost to suicide is too many.”

AMC is the first VR project in the US Department of Defense (DoD) to use ‘immersive, conversational training’ for the prevention of suicide.

In October 2017, USAF Suicide Prevention Programmes (SPP) chief lieutenant colonel Alicia Matteson highlighted social media’s role in suicide prevention.