ASAP promotes prevention
September 29, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 29, 2011) -- The Fort Rucker Army Substance Abuse Program aimed to educate the community on identifying and preventing suicide among Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees during an event Sept. 26 at the post theater.
The event featured a three-act dramatization, "Before Dialing 911," which was written, directed and produced by Linda Pappas. The dramas, which starred members of the Fort Rucker community, emphasized both identifying symptoms and supporting Army Family members at risk of suicidal crisis. The play follows Beth, the wife of a Soldier, played by Sgt. Janet McMahon, as she contemplates and avoids suicide with the help of a concerned fellow spouse. At the climax of the play, Beth's husband, Jack, portrayed by Staff Sgt. James Borchardt, also contemplates suicide, but is helped by a fellow Soldier and his Army chaplain. The third act of the play featured Chaplain (Maj.) Scott Crossfield, who explained the many ways a Soldier or Family member can seek help if at risk for suicide and emphasized this year's Suicide Prevention Month theme -- standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
"Your Family needs you. The Army needs you. It doesn't have to be this way -- you can get help," said Crossfield in the closing lines of the production.
After the play, Dr. Thomas Joiner, professor at Florida State University and author of more than 385 publications on the psychology, neurobiology, and treatment of suicidal behavior and related conditions, presented a briefing entitled "Why People Die by Suicide."
The briefing expanded on the causes and symptoms of suicide based on his research involving a sense of uselessness, alienation and lack of fear. According to Joiner, suicide can be prevented by removing the stigmas surrounding expressing concern and seeking help.
Joiner said that the ASAP presentation was a way to relay information about suicide in an approachable way.
"It's a very effective way to connect people. Bringing it to life in a dramatic fashion really brings the point home," he said.
Joiner enjoyed his experience speaking to a theater full of Fort Rucker community members.
"It's been terrific. Everybody's been really welcoming. It's an extremely organized series of presentations. It's been a pleasure," he said.
In his presentation, "So, What Now?" Crossfield spoke about the Army's suicide prevention method, also known as the ACE card method. The ACE card method, as Soldiers at the event recalled out loud, involves three phases-- asking, caring and escorting a Soldier or Family member in crisis.
"It takes energy to care, but we're called to take care of each other. It's going to take an Army Family to beat down this suicide risk that we have. You're important to the Army, to our country and to me," he said.
Joiner said that the ACE method was certainly an effective way to prevent suicide, as supported by his presentation.
"A big emphasis of the ACE approach is connecting people to care. I'm definitely a supporter of the approach. It's almost ideal," he said.
People in crisis or who know people at risk can get help from the Fort Rucker Garrison Chaplain by calling 255-2989.
For more information on suicide prevention, call 255-7509.