By Skip Vaughn, Editor, Redstone RocketAugust 28, 2008
The Army has incentive to participate in national Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 7-13.
"The suicide rate is up in the Army," Ruby Turner, alcohol and drug control officer in the Garrison's Human Resources Directorate, said. "And I think this is why they want to focus on this, so we can prevent it and recognize it. And it's aimed at reducing suicide in the Army.
"We're having an increase in suicides (Armywide). A lot of people coming back from Iraq are having, I would say, adjustment problems," she said.
The Army's theme for this observance is "Shoulder-to-Shoulder: No Soldier Stands Alone."
Banners will be displayed at Gates 1, 9 and 10. Tip cards with warning signs and ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) intervention cards will be available.
"And we're going to have posters up all over the installation," Turner said. "We will be sending e-mails out that week as well on suicide prevention. Pamphlets and brochures will also be distributed all over the installation for Soldiers and employees."
The Employee Assistance Program will present workshops on recognizing potential suicide and how to intervene. The workshop is scheduled 2-3 p.m. Sept. 9 and Sept. 11 at building 5308, room 8124. Organizations interested in scheduling training at their workplace can call 842-9895, 842-9896 or 842-9897.
"If an organization wants training we'll work with them," employee assistance professional Richard Lewis said. "And it's not restricted to that (workshop) time. We can come anytime. But we're focusing on September."
For help in suicide prevention, servicemembers can call Behavioral Medicine Department at the Fox Army Health Center at 955-8888, ext. 1032. Army civilians, family members and retirees can call Lewis at 842-9897.
"A lot of time there isn't any warning," Turner said. "If somebody really wants to do it, they just go and do it."
"I think part of it is the stigma of getting help," Lewis said.
Patricia Johnson, a counselor at Fox Army Health Center, said Fox is joining in the national suicide prevention observance in September.
"Suicide is preventable and the staff (members) at Fox work every day of the year to prevent suicides from occurring," Johnson said. "We are grateful that the month of September is set aside to highlight this critical element of mental health prevention and awareness to the Redstone Arsenal community that we serve.
"To prevent suicide all of us as co-workers, leaders, friends, as well as family members, at every level must become involved and do our part to screen, evaluate and safeguard our most valuable assets of human potential."
Fox counselor Karen Scott said, "There is nothing more satisfying than identifying and halting a suicidal ideation in its earliest form and to get the person the help they need to move beyond that low situation, to a healthy perspective where they know they can cope."
The key is early intervention, whenever possible, and to take the intent seriously.
"Depression and relationship problems can happen to anyone at any age," Scott said. "And none of us are immune from life's tragedies."