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.