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Edition: Wed, September 12, 2007
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WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"The loss of any member of the Army Family is a tragedy, and the Army has made prevention of suicide a top priority. Our message to you today is that the Army recognizes this issue and is taking deliberate steps to mitigate those risks that may contribute to suicidal behavior."--Col. Dennis W. Dingle, Director of the Army's Human Resources Policy Directorate

TODAY'S FOCUS

National Suicide Prevention Week 9-15 September 2007
Suicide Prevention in the Army


What is it? The National 2007 Suicide Prevention week is Sep. 9 -15. The theme for this year is "Suicide Prevention: Moving Forward with Education and Training." This year the Army is bringing a stronger focus to suicide prevention based on the increase in suicidal behavior and in the Army's suicide rate for calendar year 2006.

The Army Suicide Prevention Program focuses on minimizing suicidal behavior by training Soldiers, leaders and Family Members to recognize signs of suicidal behavior, intervention strategies and how to refer individuals for follow-on support and care. Program strategies include: developing life-coping skills, encouraging help-seeking behavior, buddy aid, maintaining constant vigilance, integrating and synchronizing unit and community programs, and maintaining surveillance of suicidal behaviors.

What has the Army done? In 2001, the Army Suicide Prevention Program launched a prevention campaign including new strategies and a revised Suicide Prevention model. Each year, the Army reviews its program and strives to improve its strategies based on the current environment and lessons learned.

The Army has instituted numerous programs and resources to provide for Soldiers and Families in need. For example:

- The Deployment Cycle Support Process is an initiative to provide a tool for Active Army and Reserve Component Soldiers, their Family Members and Army Civilians to synchronize services available to deal with the stress associated throughout the deployment cycle.
- In March 2007, the Army Medical Department stood up the AMEDD Suicide Prevention Office, which is committed to translating the results of surveillance and intervention into prevention and treatment programs. It launched a Web site, www.behavioralhealth.army.mil,which is intended to be a comprehensive venue for Soldiers and Family Members to get information on a variety of mental and behavioral health issues and resources available.
- Installations and units continue to implement local intervention programs with the assistance of the Community Health Promotion Council, Suicide Prevention Task Force or Suicide Prevention Coordinators.
- Soldiers and Family Members in need have ready access to existing and new services; all they need to do is ask their chain of command, chaplain, leader, buddy, or person trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) or Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) for help.

The Army has taken the following additional actions to ensure the adequacy for suicide prevention programs within the Army:

- Developed new suicide prevention training tools, incorporated real-world vignettes depicting military personnel, and introduced training-support packages that focus on intervention skills for use at the small unit level where it has the greatest impact.
- Provide Soldiers and leaders deployed and at home with training to recognize warning signs, intervention techniques for at-risk Soldiers and referral processes to support agencies for appropriate follow-on care.
- Prevention measures have been adapted at the unit level. For example, when a Soldier displays suicidal ideation, a "unit watch" plan is instituted to provide monitoring at all times to ensure they are provided necessary support, care and encouragement to facilitate a healthy recovery.

Why is this important to the Army? The loss of any member of the Army Family is a tragedy regardless of the reason and can have a profound impact on overall readiness. In the case of suicides, the U.S. Army is committed to providing the support and care necessary to overcome difficult times by providing resources to our Soldiers, their Families and Army Civilians. Our goal is to improve readiness through the development and enhancement of the Army's Suicide Prevention Program policies that are designed to minimize suicidal behavior; thereby, preserving mission effectiveness through individual readiness for Soldiers, their Families and Army Civilians.

For more information:
-Army G-1 Suicide Prevention Link
-USACHPPM Suicide Prevention Link
-Army Behavioral Health Website

INFORMATION YOU CAN USE

- 2007 Strategic Communication Guide - Read the 2007 Army Strategic Communication Guide for key messages and updates.
- Strategic Communication Coordination Group (SCCG) Workspace
- Army Public Affairs Portal

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