Speaker tells Soldiers suicide is not the answer
September 23, 2010
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Bottom line: suicide isn't the answer.
Tony Jurich, Ph.D., and Kansas State University Marriage and Family Therapy professor who has worked with Fort Riley for 39 years, and Sandra Stith, Ph.D, and K-State Marriage and Family Therapy director, spoke to 1st Infantry Division Soldiers in Morris Hill Chapel Sept. 9 discussing different areas of suicide prevention.
"Some people's lives end with a period. That's it, they're gone. Some end with an exclamation point, when a person did things in life that easily gain the attention of others; some people die with a comma, because they're belief system says to them and others that they have moved on to something else; but a suicide, that person's life ends with a question mark," Jurich has stated in past talks with "Big Red One" Soldiers, later giving advice on how to approach a fellow Soldier who is showing signs of suicidal thoughts, tendencies or comes asking for help.
"The first thing you do is ask directly, 'Are you thinking about suicide''" Jurich said, explaining that by doing so, a suicidal person's response will be self-evident in diagnosing the danger level, such as violently denying or repeatedly denying the accusation. "Then we have a problem," Jurich said.
Next, Soldiers should judge the lethality of a person's chosen form of suicide to figure out how much time they have.
"Do they have a plan' Is it very well thought out' Is there detail' Do they have a ready-made means of killing themselves' Where is it going to be' Who are they going to say goodbye too," Jurich listed as good questions to ask.
"People with suicidal (thoughts) ... who are very dangerous and on the edge, they have thought about this stuff," he said.
The most important step in helping a suicidal person is to invite them in, Jurich said.
"If you get a person on the brink of suicide, they are really vulnerable ... do the thing most people don't do, invite them to talk," he said. "You become their conduit; you become their person who then takes them over to mental health, over to the chaplain," he continued, adding that it's most likely OK to ask a superior for time away from their regular duty day to help a fellow Soldier. If not, calling a chaplain to come to you is the next option.
"Get them to somebody who can do the heavy-duty lifting," Jurich said, explaining that after assistance is gained, the connection isn't lost. "When they get back, ask them how it went," he said.
He added if they say it went well, respond by letting them know they always have you to talk to, but if they say it didn't go well, to encourage that there is always someplace else to find help and that you can help them find it.
"Ultimately, (a suicide) has the final say so on what they want, so you want to put as much emphasis on connection as possible."
While Jurich described ways to help a battle buddy and how to help them step off the metaphorical ledge, Stith discussed topics with Soldiers on how to stay resilient and stay away from the ledge altogether.
She explained it's critical to not be apathetic about issues, to avoid seeing a crisis as insurmountable, to find goals or hobbies that relieve stress or one can find passion in, to have a dream, to make connections, to have a first-line support group to help get through problems, to look for opportunities for self-discovery, to nurture a positive view of yourself, to keep things in perspective, maintain a hopeful outlook, to take care of yourself in your way - exercising, gaming, socializing - and to ask for help when it's most needed.
Individuals in need of help should contact <b>785-239-HELP (4357) or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). </b>More information on suicide prevention can be found at <a href="http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/">www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide</a> or by calling the Suicide Prevention Program staff at <b>785-239-1012</b>.