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Suicide Prevention Is Attainable

Information  April 18 2012
 — By CJ Grisham
Suicide Prevention Is Attainable


This is a topic that is near and dear to me. Reading these reports is distressing that we still have Soldiers out there that feel like this is the solution to their problems. Believe me, it’s NOT! But, I understand how Soldiers can feel this way. I’ve been there.

No amount of education, awareness, or training on the topic is going to do a lick of good if we, as leaders, don’t have the interests of our troops first and foremost in our minds. It is imperative that we know our troops personally as well as professionally. We must understand – really understand – the indicators that lead to these thoughts.

As LTG Hororo says below (and GEN Chiarelli frequently noted), even one suicide is one too many. That’s not just a catchy phrase. Every single suicide can be prevented if every single Soldier understands their value in this life. I look back on all that’s happened, positive and negative, since that dark night in June 2010. There is so much that I would have missed out on. There are so many lives that I have positively affected and have positively affected me because I allowed them to help me. I reached out when I felt that all was lost. I picked up the phone when I wanted to pick up that pistol.

Believe it or not, things get better. I got better. It’s not the perfect life that I imagine is out there somewhere, but living through it strengthened me when I thought nothing could help me.

As leaders, we need to be aware of the things our troops are going through so they can feel comfortable leaning on them when needed. That trust must be formed well before these thoughts enter our the minds of our troops. But, even when I didn’t trust my leaders to help me, I reached out to others outside of the military or outside of my unit for help.

The suicide solution is no solution at all. I hope that anyone reading this and contemplating that final act out of desperation understands that. If you don’t have someone you feel you can talk to, email me! I will help you!

The Army released suicide data today for the month of March. During March, among active-duty soldiers, there were 18 potential suicides: three have been confirmed as suicides and 15 remain under investigation. For February, the Army reported 11 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, five have been confirmed as suicides and six remain under investigation. For 2012, there have been 45 potential active-duty suicides: 20 have been confirmed as suicides and 25 remain under investigation. Updated active-duty suicide numbers for 2011: 164 (164 have been confirmed as suicides and none remain under investigation).

During March, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 10 potential suicides (seven Army National Guard and three Army Reserve): four have been confirmed as suicides and six remain under investigation. For February, among that same group, the Army reported three potential suicides. Since the release of that report, one case has been added for a total of four potential suicides (four Army National Guard and no Army Reserve): three have been confirmed as suicides and one remains under investigation. For 2012, there have been 20 potential not on active duty suicides (16 Army National Guard and four Army Reserve): 13 have been confirmed as suicides and seven remain under investigation. Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for 2011: 117 (81 Army National Guard and 36 Army Reserve); 117 have been confirmed as suicides and none remain under investigation.

“One suicide is one too many. We in Army medicine have partnered with our line leaders to enhance mental health resiliency; by engaging soldiers holistically by supporting their mental, physical and spiritual well being in an effort to improve the health and wellness of the Force. 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 D. Horoho, the surgeon general of the Army.

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf.

The Army’s comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.preventsuicide.army.mil.

Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20 (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).

Information about Military OneSource is located at http://www.militaryonesource.com or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental United States. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.

Information about the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/.

The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at Resources@DCoEOutreach.org and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil.

The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is http://www.afsp.org/, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is found at http://www.sprc.org/index.asp.

(6) Readers Comments

  1. There is help and it is ok to ask. I lost my brother to suicide when it apparently was not ok to ask for help. Although you may feel like you are alone at the bottom of a very deep dark pit but you are not alone.

    To the author – Thank you for speaking up

  2. I am The Suicide Prevention Coordinator of the Baltimore VA Medical Center and truly appreciate this inspiring blog…….

    • Sita you are an amazing woman! You impact so many people in positive way

  3. 18 Veteran suicides a day 24 / 7 and my Congressman Roscoe Bartlett is majority leader for defense and veteran affairs talked with me one on one about this UNACCEPTABLE loss of life. My Senator Barbara Mikulski wrote a letter in my behalf to the Director of the Martinsburg, WV VAMC who responded to her with hope and faith. I think the Government should run more like a Business and be accountable of all of their actions, like budgets, schedules, plans and compassion. We just cut the Space Shuttle program of $3 Billion, guess we have to hitchhike rides with the Soviets to fix our EMP resistant satellites. The Air Force gets a new Fighter every time they ask for one. Who then speaks for the dead Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen who die while in a Country that the Soviets lost 70,000 Troops and came away with nothing. The U.S. has 30,000 Nukes, who would attempt to attack our soil (like 9-11). I say let’s go on an oil diet, built more electric cars, drop a care package to the old and sick in our own Country. Why are we still in Korea after 60 years, where did our jobs go, I can tell ya, NAFTA and GATT Treaties and importing thousands of H1B Visa people who will work for literallybottom wage. NO..It’s all messed up and the Military is paying for it. So Billionaires beware. You have created this monster and it can find you in the Bahamas or anywhere else in the World that you hide your profits from taxation. What 7 billion people live on this Planet, of which 5% are occupying the United States. Of that there are approximately 380 million people. Of those people only 2% serve in the Military who going back to the beginning, risk life, limbs and psychological function. There’s millions of dollars at stake, by the millionaire club down in Washington D.C. I am tired of the justifications of invading and occupying foreign countries. If they are not a direct threat to us, then let them hate each other. Weapons of Mass Destruction, Communism, think up something the the people want to believe until their Son or Daughter gets killed in action. I see no humility greater than keeping those men and women at risk for a Nation that doesn’t like us. Who is getting the Poppies?
    The Giant Military / Industrial Complex should suffice as bringing the biggest swords to battle, with little or no recognition for the common serviceman or woman. Sequestrian, and let Americans build more obsolete Nuclear Air Craft Carriers at what 10 billion a copy? They are antiques in the next war, but they are sole sourcing and buiding what quantity 14 and still building. I was there when they had us working in the sealed off building for Reactor Plant and Planning Yard, where they scanned 50 year old documents, converted it into a computer design electronic file and put a Title Block on it and called it a new drawing. If that’s NOT CHEATING the Government, I don’t know what is. These are not isolated instances. I pray for the Active Duty servicemen and women who are bourne into battle and sadness comes when another comes home in a body bag. As Thomas Jefferson once said,”If we don’t hang together, we will most certainly hang independently”. It will be a great day when the U.S. Air Force has to have a bake sale to buy a new Bomber (another obsolete prestige toy). Commanders, bring our Troops home. Piss on what the President says. He wanted this war back when he was just a Senator. If each Aircraft Carrier houses 6000 men and women, plus 2 escort destroyers, 2 missile cruisers, a sub some where. Somebody’s making the bucks, while the rest of us are in fear of losing our pensions, savings, jobs and security. Like that’s ever going to happen. GOD bless you who gave all.

    • Dear Charles, May I copy and post your letter in my local (Klamath Falls, Oregon) Newspaper? With your name and source (A Soldiers Perpective, Militarygear.com)? Thank you for writing, from someone who cares and listens, Thank you.

      • Justice, you may. My name is CJ though.

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