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.


 
 

 

Honoring Gold Star Mothers

As part of our commitment to never forget those Soldiers who gave all, the Army joins the Nation on Sunday in remembering the strength and sacrifice of its Gold Star Mothers. Since 1936, Congress has set aside the last Sunday in September to recognize the mothers of Service members who have died while defending our...
 
 

Remember Gold Star Mothers, Families

The term Gold Star Family is a modern reference that comes from the Service Flag. These flags/banners were first flown by Families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate Family member serving in the armed forces of the United States, during any period of war or hostilities in which...
 
 

It’s a Thin Line for prescription use, misuse, abuse; dispose of unused drugs Sept. 27

SAN ANTONIO — Nearly one out of 20 Soldiers misuse painkillers, says the website Army Thin Line. The website is part of a campaign designed to educate Soldiers, their friends and Families and the provider community about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse. Army Thin Line encourages safe and responsible decisions when using...
 

 
Army.mil

U.S. Army celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

Army.mil Mr. Gonzalo Soanes, mayor of Caguas, explains how his town conducted blackouts to Lt. Col. F. Parra, Maj. Gen. Collins, and Lt. Gen. Andrews, Puerto Rico, November 1941. The U.S. Army recognizes the achievements and co...
 
 

National Suicide Prevention Week, World Suicide Prevention Day and Army Suicide Awareness Month, 2014 Enhancing Resiliency — Strengthening Our Professionals

Our Soldiers, Civilians and Families remain our strength, demonstrating unparalleled skill and professionalism as they support our great Army and defend our Nation. While our commitment to them extends year-round, we call special attention to our ongoing efforts to build individual resiliency skills during the Army’s observance of Suicide Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “Enhancing...
 
 

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day — 2014

The Nation’s Annual Observance of Women’s Equality Day commemorates the addition of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote. This victory moved our Nation forward on the path towards equal civil and political rights for all Americans. The roles of women in the Army have changed dramatically since 1775....
 




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