Fort Belvoir components train in suicide prevention
March 19, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Virginia--Over the past month, Fort Belvoir's units, directorates and organizations have joined the Army-wide efforts to educate Soldiers and government civilians about suicide prevention by participating in an interactive video that covers various suicide scenarios.
The suicide prevention stand-down occurred from February 15 to March 15 and focused on familiarizing all Army components, jurisdictions and commands with suicide awareness issues.
Fort Belvoir Public Affairs Director Don Carr noted the importance suicide awareness has become in today's military.
"The loss of an American Soldier's life is a tragedy regardless of the reason," Carr said. "This training focuses on that. It's designed to help our Soldiers, employees and families understand the signs of suicidal behavior and what they can do to intervene to help people in need of care. The ultimate goal is to save lives and reduce Army suicides."
"We want the families who have lost loved ones to suicide to understand how deeply we feel their loss and that we are committed to doing everything possible to prevent this tragedy in our Army," Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said.
"Progress depends on coordinated efforts across our entire Army - across all components, jurisdictions and commands, and on effective work with our government, like the National Institute of Mental Health."
According to an Army news release, for the fourth consecutive year, the Army has seen an increase in suicide rates.
There were 128 suicides last year in the active Army, with another 15 cases still pending a determination, according to data compiled by Army human resources officials. This number increased from 115 suicides in 2007.
The new training tool is a new interactive DVD, that allows the audience to follow along with two Soldiers who are encountering tough times and determine the best course of action for both Soldiers.
Each organization sent a trainer to go through a day-long training session to be able to administer the training to his or her respective section.
Trainers of the new program felt the format of the interactive training was very beneficial in providing the necessary awareness to combat the growing number of suicide attempts in the Army.
"I found the 'Beyond the Front' video training tool to be a highly effective in getting people engaged quickly and people's attention increased as the training progressed," Kim Mills, Non-Appropriated Funds resources director for Belvoir's Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said.
"Overall, people found the training to be very good. They were surprised and encouraged that it would signal a vastly improved type of training overall for Army-wide topics."
"It allowed people to talk about just below the surface, sensitive subjects openly and without fear," Mills added.
Claude McMullen, director of logistics agreed with Mills.
"I think they have done a very good job with this," McMullen said. "The interactive part of this makes everyone think, and, it shows cause and effect. If you do this, or fail to do this, then this can happen."
Kristen Meyer, director of Outdoor Recreation for DFMWR, noted that this format allows viewers to remember information easier.
"I think this is the best training because you have interaction and allows people to remain attentive," Meyer said. "Having it shown in this format, you remember more because it is more visual and you tend to recall more information."
The program was administered in small groups by design, to allow the trainers and those participating to remain focused and active. All three of the trainers felt the format of the training added to the programs effectiveness.
"Focusing on small groups makes it a little bit easier to teach because you can pay attention to everyone," McMullen said. "I like the venue of this and the way it is being administered."
Mills also noted the small groups provide an opportunity to strengthen understanding and awareness among co-workers.
"I think providing this training in small groups and within a specific section or office or unit also serves to strengthen understanding and awareness among colleagues and co-workers," Mills said. "Folks that were involved in the training are still talking about it and it is a vehicle that encourages open communications overall."