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Army Still Struggling with Suicide

Information  November 15 2012
 — By CJ Grisham
Army Still Struggling with Suicide

On September 27th, the entire stopped what it was doing for a Suicide Stand Down. Every Soldier in the Army – deployed or not – was required to attend training designed to draw attention to indicators of potential suicide. The training also highlighted programs that were available to ensure that Soldiers knew where to go in the event they found themselves thinking about making that fateful decision.

So, with an entire day dedicated to stemming the tide of suicides plaguing our Army at the end of September, the logical effect would be fewer suicides.

The Army released suicide data today for the month of October. During October, among active-duty soldiers, there were 20 potential suicides: five have been confirmed as suicides, and 15 remain under investigation. For September, the Army reported 15 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers: four have been confirmed as suicides, and 11 remain under investigation. For 2012, there have been 166 potential active-duty suicides: 105 have been confirmed as suicides, and 61 remain under investigation. Active-duty suicide number for 2011: 165 confirmed as suicides, and no cases under investigation.

So, not only did MORE Soldiers kill themselves in October versus September, in just ten months we eclipsed the number of suicides that occurred in 2011.

Why is this happening? After writing about the suicide stand down day, I began to receive stories from NCOs and Soldiers at other posts who had a much different experience than I did. In their training, leaders were more involved with their Blackberries and smart phones or reading books and didn’t seem to care much about what was going on around the room. I’m sure this turned off a bunch of troops. Imagine – a training event designed to inform our Soldiers that their leaders and peers care about them and these same leaders couldn’t give a rat’s ass to participate. Others told me that the entire thing was made out to be a joke. Leaders gave smartass responses to serious questions. They lampooned the videos and subject material.

Is it no wonder that we are on course to bust 200 suicides in one year?! I mean what do we need to do to get it through the thick skulls that populate the senior NCO and field grade officer ranks that this is a real problem that REQUIRES active participation?! It takes – yes, I’ll say it – an emotional love for the troops we are charged to protect. Genuine care. Remember that?! Remember when you had to actually care about your Soldiers, dear leaders?!

“Suicide is preventable, and its prevention is a shared responsibility among all members of the Army family,” said Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command. Rodriguez said that everyone is empowered to intervene and save lives, “effective intervention requires leadership involvement and support, an environment that promotes help-seeking for hidden wounds like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress and prior knowledge of available local and national resources. We all must take the time to do a self-inventory to assess the presence and impact of stressors in our lives. Of equal importance is the awareness of the needs of others around us. There are no bystanders in our Army family.”

There are placed you can go if you find yourself under one of these piss poor leaders that cares more about getting home in time for the football than spending some time pulling a Soldier aside he paid attention to and thinks may be having problems. I mean, I can’t express how disgusted I am. I was there. I had some of those leaders that made matters worse when it was obvious I was sinking. One cared more about turning in his eagle for a star. One cared more about making himself look good and the good ole boy network, of which I didn’t belong. And one was just an opportunistic back-stabbing hypocrite. You know who you are.

Now these are just a bunch a links if you don’t have anyone else to talk to. But, please get with someone local you trust before it gets to this point. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Send a text. But, don’t pick up a gun or a bottle of pills or a straight razor.

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.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. CJ,
    As the wife of a Vietnam Veteran that works fulltime with troops in his military retirement, I gotta get this off of my proverbial chest. I have a frustration of my own, concerning this subject.

    I know one of the best kept, though accidentally-kept secrets about Suicide prevention & treatment of all types of emotional issues. I know it intimately because I use the “treatment” daily, even more than once a day.

    I’ve mentioned it here, before. I have worked my butt off in the past four or so years to try and help get the word out. Like, “Hey, Peeps!” Look here, see? hear it? Will ya give it a chance?? Just one time?

    I am referring to “The Coping Strategies” now known by at least some in every walk of military life. This is Col. Monaco’s 501c gift to all that ask. But no money exists for advertising.

    It’s amazing, it works! One soldier, while in Iraq exclaimed “This is basic training for the mind!” Yes, that’s it and without exaggeration. The head of psychiatry at Walter Reed, sorry I don’t have the dates he was said he has given TSG (The Surgeon General) a positive report of it. I’ve heard that he used it for quite some time there at Walter Reed

    It’s at http://www.patriotoutreach.org and sister site where even civilians can use it anytime, without as much as registering, for FREE as often as one wishes. That is copingstrategiescd.com .

    Please, everyone check it out! at the first link above, Col. Monaco explains what it is and how it works so amazingly, wonderfully well. It’s my understanding that he uses it himself, as do chaplains, military and civilian Physicians and many others.

    It’s frustrating to read of this number increasing, and know the premier treatment for what is happening because our minds can torment us, and not have the ability to get the word out to more folks. Figures! something almost like a miracle and it is remaining relatively obscure. Sorry for my negativity there.

    If this sounds more like a rant to you and it isn’t left posted here, I’ll not have any hard feelings.

    If it is left posted, FOLKS!! please just check it out, read Col. Monaco’s msg. about it and listen at one of his two sites, to the amazing exercise.

    It IS saving lives. Some commands have been mailed as many as 5,000 copies at one time. Thank God they had heard about it and knew to ask.

    God bless you, and thanks for writing this post of yours, blog entry? not sure what to call it, but thank you.
    From the heart,
    Karen~

  2. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t share the Endorsements that I have, so far.

    Army Chaplain
    “The Be Still and Know Exercise works for me. It calms my soul, enhances my thinking, and improves my emotional regulation. I am thankful to be a more resilient chaplain.” -Chaplain (LTC), U.S. Army (Southern Baptist)

    Walter Reed
    “Patriot Outreach Coping Strategies CDs. “I have rendered a positive opinion to TSG (The Surgeon General).” – Dr. (COL) John Bradley, M.D., Chief of Psychiatry, Walter Reed Army Medical Center

    Iraq Warrior
    “This is basic training for the mind!” – PFC J. Oehring, U.S. Army Infantry (Deployed to Iraq)

    MG (Major General)
    “In my own experience as a commander, I have seen Soldiers make rapid and sustained improvement through use of these [Coping Strategies] CDs. I was relieved to have these CDs available as a tool our Chaplains could hand out to Soldiers and their spouses. Soldiers, who otherwise refused to seek help, benefited by using the CD in the privacy of their home.” – MG(R) George R. Harris, recently retired West Point General assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Army

    Veterans Administration Clinic
    “I received my [Coping Strategies] CD and love it. I would very much like to request 30 more for use at the VA Clinic and to provide to soldiers and families.
    This is a wonderful resource!
    Thank you,” -T.P., Addiction Therapist (VA Clinic)

    Father Loses Son in Iraq, Joins Marines
    “On the third try, all hell broke loose and it was an epiphany… It energizes me, it enlightens me and it gives me strength… I am ready and proud.” – Mike, U.S. Marine Corps, Deployed to Iraq

    Sergeant USMC
    “Thank you, It saved my Life! The peace and joy I now enjoy makes life worthwhile! ” – SGT J. Shiposki, U.S. Marine Corps, (Homebound Quadriplegic)

    Air Force Chaplain
    “The distribution of these [Coping Strategies] CD’s has been a great success.
    My thanks to the Lord and staff. I have been busy at the Mass Military Reservation on-base. Units from all over New England come here. May I request 50 more CD’s? One veteran has commented ‘thanks for looking out for us!” -Respectfully, B. C., U.S. Air Force

    Doctor
    “Hello I am a Professional Counselor in private practice and a volunteer in the ‘Give An Hour’ program. I anticipate needing no less than 6 copies of this product to use in conjunction with current and future active therapy cases. If you can supply this request i will be grateful.”
    Thank You,” -Major W. K.

    Wife
    “May I have 10 copies? I am a family member of an active duty soldier. I am also a clinical psychologist working with soldiers who have combat stress and PTSD. I think the cd would be a good resource for my patients. Thank you,” – D. L, PsyD RN FNP (Clinical Psychologist)

    Navy Vet, Vietnam
    “Amazingly, it (the Exercise) keeps showing and reaping benefits. I’ve never been more patient and alive. The secret is in the watchful observance without struggle.” – L. Brown U.S. Navy, Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam

    Iraq Warrior
    “I am no longer in denial of what happened in Iraq. I am freed. The exercise helped me overcome my past; it;s not haunting me any longer. it’s a winner!!”
    - PFC J.M., U.S. Army, Anbar Province, Iraq 2004-2005

    Dr. George Hayter, M.D., Psychiatrist and Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, says the Exercise “…is the only program of self-therapy which achieves the desired end-state of therapy; to lessen the dependence on the therapist – the goal is self-awareness.” Also, he says, “It’s the only approach that I have ever seen in the whole field of psychology which allows you to become independent, competent and effective.”

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