Commentary

September 7, 2012

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Use resources to help prevent a needless death

The longest war in America’s history has stressed and strained service members like perhaps no other conflict.  The psychological toll, and especially the soaring suicide rate, have caught the attention of the media, the public and leaders at the highest levels.

Any suicide is one too many. In the military, individual suicides forever alter the lives of those left behind in ways that exceed even normal grieving. Beyond the impact on friends and families, suicide exacts a painful toll on our formations that is uniquely devastating, perhaps even more so than casualties due to combat, accidents and illness.  But suicide is more than a personal tragedy endured by individuals and small units. With suicide rates at record levels this has become an issue of national importance.  Suicide is specifically mentioned in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ National Military Strategy. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta described suicide as his “most frustrating problem” and has made tackling it a top priority by funding research and resources. Secretary of the Army John McHugh has stated, “The most important thing we do is take care of our Soldiers and take care of our Families.”

Even though these national leaders are deeply concerned and incredibly motivated to save service members’ lives from suicide, these tragedies continue to occur in the Army at the alarming rate of about one per day. These national leaders have focused on making resources available to service members and reducing the strain on the force. They have mandated training, campaigned to reduce stigma, and hired scores of behavioral health providers. However, the results will ultimately be determined and felt at the local level. Fort Huachuca has suffered three documented suicides in the past year. Nearly three times that many survived documented suicide attempts, although it seems likely that more attempts could have gone undetected. We have plenty of work left to do.

To prevent further tragedies and to set the tone for the rest of the year, the Army has designated September as Suicide Prevention Month. This month will be observed by a stand-down for suicide prevention training on Sept. 27, as well as other events throughout the month to increase awareness of this problem and what to do about it.  However, what matters most is putting these important programs and training into practice.

Preventing suicide requires action. Just recently I had a conversation with a senior leader who recognized one of his subordinates was struggling. His work performance had dropped off, and one day in the office he just didn’t seem himself. The senior leader directed his staff not to let the service member go home until he personally had a chance to talk with him, but his staff disregarded those instructions and sent him home before that conversation occurred. The senior leader insisted his staff track him down, and  that military member was later discovered alive but with slit wrists. That service member nearly died from his own actions, and also from the inaction of those who failed to recognize the signs and intervene.

This story has a happy ending. Ultimately the individual returned to duty as a valued member of the team, and I can’t think of a better example to simultaneously illustrate the importance of supportive leadership action and the danger posed by inaction. This month, as we pause to focus on preventing suicide, I hope we will keep positive examples like these in mind and be ready to act when it is our turn to save a life. Whether for ourselves, subordinates, colleagues or family members, the resources are there. We just need to use them.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Stephanie Caffall

Women’s history showcased during special event Wednesday

Stephanie Caffall Fort Huachuca’s Thunder Mountain Activity Centre was the site of an event titled, “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” Wednesday in celebration for National Women’s History Month. After the reading...
 
 
DoD

DOD warns troops, families to be cyber crime smart

WASHINGTON — Defense Department employees and their families should be vigilant when guarding personal and work information from expanding cyber-criminal activity, and to know how to recognize scammer tactics, according to DOD’s chief information officer. Terry Halvorsen issued a DOD-wide memorandum March 18 about the growing threat of cybercrime “phishing” and “spear phishing” in e...
 
 

Army health leaders advocate for importance of nutrition

WASHINGTON — During National Nutrition Month in March, “we encourage each of you to renew a commitment to achieving your personal Performance Triad goals,” said Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho. This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” she said. The Performance Triad focuses on the importance of sleep, activity and nutrition...
 

 
Natalie Lakosil

Convoy exercise helps ready 111th MI Bde. for emergencies

Natalie Lakosil Soldiers from the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade take a short rest in lower Garden Canyon before returning to the motor pool as part of a convoy training exercise Wednesday. The exercise helps the brigade s...
 
 

Fort Huachuca Criminal Punishment Bulletin – February

For the month of February, in addition to Court-Martial and U.S. Federal Court Proceedings, 31 Soldiers were disciplined under Article 15, UCMJ; and 25 Soldiers were administratively separated, including 2 for misconduct. The following are notable recent criminal proceedings: A specialist assigned to the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion was tried at a General Court-Martial. The...
 
 
Natalie Lakosil

111th MI Bde. NCO, Soldier, Platoon Sgt. of Quarter winners selected

Natalie Lakosil Sgt. Jason Grider, Alpha Company, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, inspects uniforms during the in-ranks inspection portion of the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade Non-commissioned Officer of the Quarte...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin