Health & Safety

September 7, 2012

Suicide prevention: A healthy force is a ready force

Kirk Frady
Army Medicine

WASHINGTON — The Army has designated September as Suicide Prevention Month and joins the nation in observing National Suicide Prevention Week, next week, and World Suicide Prevention Day, Monday.

The Army will expand its observance with events occurring during the entire month of September, focusing efforts on total Army family well-being, resilience, stigma reduction and positive results achieved by getting involved and reaching out for help.

“We are committed to every Soldier, and our efforts are focused on prevention well before the individual chooses suicide as their only option,” said Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army Surgeon General and commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command.

To reduce the number of suicides, the Army is taking a holistic approach to health promotion, risk reduction, and suicide prevention. It takes into account the challenges derived from financial, relationship, legal, substance abuse and medical issues. The Army has partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, to conduct the largest behavioral health study of risk and resilience factors among military personnel.

Agencies and organizations throughout the Army are planning appropriate educational activities to observe the Army’s Suicide Prevention Month. A Suicide Prevention webpage has been established on the Army Suicide Prevention website to facilitate suicide prevention training and resource needs at www.preventsuicide.army.mil.

Public Service Announcements with senior leaders’ messaging have been developed and disseminated throughout the Army to support Army leaders. A stand down has been directed by Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III for Sept. 27. The theme for the stand down is “Shoulder to Shoulder, We Stand up for Life.” Fort Huachuca will host a suicide stand-down day, Sept. 27, at Cochise Theater, Eifler Fitness Center and Murr Community Center at 8 and 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. at all three locations simultaneously. Soldiers, spouses, Family members, Department of the Army civilians, retirees and other friends and members of the Fort Huachuca
community are invited to participate.

“Leaders across our Army recognize that the health of our Soldiers, Army civilians, and Family members is a top priority,” Austin said. “We remain committed to doing what is needed to care for our most precious asset — our people — thereby ensuring a healthy and resilient force for the future.”

Defeating suicide will take active involvement from everyone. Civilian and military research on suicide has demonstrated that it is a complex phenomenon which defies easy solutions. The Army has expanded access to services and programs to help Soldiers and Family members improve their ability to cope with the stresses associated with military service such as separation, deployments, financial pressures and others.

The increased use of these services indicates that Soldiers and Families are using these programs. For example, the number of Soldiers who have been seen in behavioral health clinics has steadily increased over the past five years, the total number of behavioral health clinic visits increased, and the number of Soldiers who participate in Strong
Bonds marital retreats has increased. These types of programs are geared toward getting the Army out “in front” of the suicide, and will ultimately help lower suicide rates.

“Despite the tough enemies our Army encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan, suicide is the toughest enemy we’ve faced, and I’m confident we will defeat this enemy,” said Joseph Westphal, under secretary of the Army. “I’ve served as a senior leader in the Army and various capacities, across several administrations, and I have never seen a challenge that, when Army leadership put their minds to it, they weren’t able to address it successfully.”

Stigma toward seeking behavioral health support is a national problem which the Army takes very seriously.

Numerous surveys indicate that some Soldiers are reluctant to seek help because they view it as a sign of weakness, or they believe their leaders will view it as a sign of weakness.

However, over the past several years there has been a decrease in the percentage of Soldiers that hold these views. At the same time, the number of Soldiers who are using treatment programs such as behavioral health and substance abuse has steadily increased which indicates Soldiers are overcoming those stigma barriers. It will take time to change this culture, but through actions and example, Army leaders are beginning that transformation.

Army leaders have developed and implemented numerous initiatives to address the issue of stigma as it relates to seeking behavioral (mental) health services including:

  • the co-location of behavioral health and primary healthcare providers (Respect-Mil and Medical Home Model) within medical service facilities
  • stigma reduction messaging is included in all suicide prevention training videos
  • strategic communications initiatives launched to promote help seeking behavior for Soldiers -and their Families (to include PSAs using celebrities as well as Army leaders)
  • policy revisions have been promulgated to discontinue use of the term ‘mental’ when referring to mental health services and replace it with ‘behavioral’
  • continued exploration of opportunities to employ confidential behavioral health and related services

The Army has expanded its Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training,or ASIST, efforts and developed and fielded a number of training tools to facilitate units’ training. Other resources include ACE cards, Suicide Prevention Training Tip cards, leaders’ guides and videos. Additional resources may be accessed on the Army G-1, Suicide Prevention website.

Other programs designed to combat suicide include the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, or CSF2, rogram, which the Army instituted in 2012. CSF2 an update to the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, which equips and trains Soldiers, Family members and Army civilians for the psychological as well as physical rigors of sustained operations.

The CSF2 training equips individuals with valuable life skills which helps to better cope in stressful situations, bounce back from adversity, and avoid self-defeating behavior. CSF2 resilience training will help commanders with “Health of the Force” issues to include suicide prevention.

For assistance, Soldiers and Family members can contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Military Crisis Line at 1.800.273. TALK (8255). Locally, Soldiers can call the Fort Huachuca Army Substance Abuse Program office, 538.1884.




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


 
 

 

THANKSGIVING DAY SAFETY MESSAGE

Thanksgiving is a day set aside to pause, reflect and give thanks for the gifts of peace, freedom and opportunity we share as Americans. Holiday weekends provide a well-earned respite from work and an opportunity for travel to visit Family and friends. However, increased travel means increased exposure to the hazards associated with heavy holiday...
 
 

Baby, it’s cold outside — time to heat things up

Within the past few weeks, the normally warm Arizona heat has done an about-face — suddenly it’s cold outside. Often people’s homes or office spaces are not heated to their liking so they use portable heaters to be more comfortable. Sometimes Families use fireplaces to help take the edge off of the cold in the...
 
 

FH Retiree Council shares news, notes

Peer support line helps veterans Since 2010, the Vets4Warriors Peer Support Line has provided service members confidential, peer-to-peer support. The Peer Support Line was built on the concept that Service members prefer to seek help from someone who has also served and understands their challenges. Vets4Warriors, which will soon change its name to the Military...
 

 
facts-about-healthy-food1

Fit for Life: Army Performance Triad is like three-legged stool

David “Chazz” Owen The title of this article involves the parable of the three-legged stool. Such an item is very sturdy, and capable of supporting great loads, but take just one leg away and it becomes precarious. Another ...
 
 

Garrison commander conducts Ebola Awareness Town Halls

The Fort Huachuca U.S. Army Garrison commander conducted two Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Awareness Town Halls Nov. 13 at Murr Community Center to ensure all Installation Management Command (IMCOM) personnel are knowledgeable about the disease, its origins and spread. Col. Thomas A. Boone addressed attendees about the mandatory IMCOM Ebola training requirement, and said the...
 
 

Lose cigarettes, e-cigs Thursday during Great American Smokeout

Fort Huachuca smokers and electronic nicotine delivery device users have an opportunity next week to quit smoking — even if it’s only for one day. On Thursday tobacco users across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout. They may use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan...
 




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