Run, CG highlight suicide prevention event
September 20, 2012
WASHINGTON -- The Army will conduct a suicide prevention stand down worldwide Sept. 27 to focus on promoting good health, teammate involvement, risk reduction and resilience training.
As part of the Army-wide stand down, Fort Rucker will conduct a post run at 6 a.m. that day at Howze Field, followed by addresses by Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general, and Aviation Branch Command Sgt. Maj. James H. Thomson Jr., according to post officials.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III ordered the stand down following the release of July suicide figures, which confirmed two suicides and another 36 potential suicides presently under investigation. To date, 120 active-duty Soldiers are confirmed to have taken their lives while another 67 deaths are under investigation.
"Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army," he said, adding that he believes it preventable through solutions aimed at helping individuals build resiliency to help strengthen their life-coping skills.
Austin said the Army must continue to address the stigma associated with asking for help.
"Ultimately, we want the mindset across our force and society at large to be that behavioral health is a routine part of what we do and who we are as we strive to maintain our own physical and mental wellness," Austin said.
As part of the Fort Rucker's stand down, units will form up on Howze Field by 5:45 a.m., observe Reveille, go on the run and then reform for the CG and CSM addresses on suicide prevention, according to officials.
Units will depart Howze Field following the command group and run primarily along the standard 5th Avenue physical training run route. The route goes from Howze Field onto Novosel, turning left onto 5th Avenue to Cowboy Street. The formation will then turn around in the field between Cowboy and Boxcar and return via the same route until reaching the Aviation Library. There the formation will transition up Novosel towards The Landing, where units will re-enter and reform on Howze Field to complete the run.
The last suicide prevention stand down the Army had was in 2009 and followed the train-the-trainer concept and how to recognize potential suicides, but this year's program brings a more holistic approach to beating the epidemic, said Walter O. Morales, chief of the Army Suicide Prevention Program.
Morales said Army suicides have more than doubled since 2004.
"I think the big difference between 2009 and now is this time we've focused all across the Army, even here at the Pentagon we're going to stand down with the Army chief of staff leading a personal session by talking with the general officers and senior executives," said Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, Army G-1.
"This is absolutely a battle that we have to engage in every single day," Bromberg added. "I'm asking all Soldiers this entire month and moving forward to just to think about that as military members, Family members, teammates, civilians, neighbors and friends to look out for each other in our community."
"We're looking at health promotion -- establishment of good eating and sleeping habits, different ways of exercising and that leadership must be involved and accountable, so we'll be looking at many resources and not just those resources specifically for suicide prevention," said Morales. "Our goal is to let Soldiers, leaders, Family members and Army civilians know we have resources to help them remain risk-free."
Several of those resources include Army Strong Bonds, a program led by the Chaplain Corps that seeks to build resiliency by offering individual Soldiers and Families relationship education and skills training, explained Col. George A. Glaze, chief of the Health Promotion Risk Reduction Division of G-1.
"We have Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness which is about building resiliency and learning coping life skills that you need to handle with some of the challenges we have," Glaze added. "We have the Army substance abuse program that gets after the dependencies on alcohol and drug abuse and we have for those Soldiers who are geographically dispersed the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK."
Morales said programs like ACE -- Ask, Care, Escort -- teaches skills on how to intervene, and what questions to ask to get Soldiers the help they need. Key he says is to have the courage to intervene by stepping in with alternative solutions.