5th Signal Suicide Prevention Training Gets Personal
October 10, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Leaders with U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden hosted a suicide stand down event on September 25th in the Clay Kaserne Fitness Center to promote suicide prevention awareness throughout their community. Soldiers and civilians from every unit within the garrison were in attendance. At the conclusion of the event, Col. David H. Carstens, the garrison commander, urged everyone to get more involved to help the Army combat suicide.
Col. Mitchell L. Kilgo, the commander of 5th Signal Command, published a memo entitled, "Winning the War on Suicide" on Monday, which outlined a plan to get after the problem in several different ways. The memo emphasized 5 key tools to help everyone combat suicide:
• Get Smart
• Get Connected
• Get Skills
• Get Vision
• Get help
"The most important way that we are getting after this problem is by putting the focus on people," said Col. Carleton Birch, the 5th Signal Command chaplain.
Birch said that since suicide is taking approximately a battalion worth of Soldiers out of the Army each year, it's obvious that we all have to get better at understanding suicide.
"One thing I hear from leaders is that they don't understand why a person would take their own life," said Birch. "If that is true, then we all need to get better at understanding the type of person who is thinking about taking their own life."
Leaders with the 5th Signal Command reorganized their entire staff into small working groups Wednesday and discussed the command's plan to understand and combat suicide.
Holding small group discussions on suicide prevention is a sign that 5th Signal is serious in taking the necessary steps toward creating a more intimate training experience for all of its Soldiers and civilians. Unit leaders hope putting people closer together will promote a more personal exchange of information and experience that will allow people to become more familiar with each other.
"You have to know your people, know their needs, to not only accomplish the signal mission, but to accomplish the leadership task of taking care of people," said Birch.
Birch dismissed any notion that leaders must demonstrate a more emotional posture when dealing with someone who is suicidal. He even suggested the most hardened leader can be very effective at taking care of people when given the necessary care giving skills.
"The number one skill we can have as leaders, to prevent suicide, is to close our mouths and open our ears," said Birch.