By Dr. Shayne Gallaway, Suicide Prevention Program Manager, Franconia Military CommunityMarch 3, 2014
ANSBACH, Germany (Feb. 27, 2014) --Most people deal with multiple sources of stress in both their personal life and at work. In the U.S. Army Soldiers, civilians and Families may also experience the added stress of garrison closures, transitions and deployments.
One of the top priorities at the Franconia Military Community -- which includes U.S. Army Garrisons Ansbach, Bamberg and Schweinfurt -- is the life, health and safety of its community members. Essentially for the garrisons -- as well as for the Army -- the most valuable assets are the human lives who soldier, live and work on and off post.
Therefore suicide is a distressing subject for the military.
There is not one single cause of suicide. Specific issues frequently identified among people who die by suicide include relationship problems, financial concerns and mental health issues. Often these issues are worsened by drug and alcohol use. Dealing with issues before they become overwhelming is an important step in suicide prevention.
"During these challenging times and this time of uncertainty and anxiety, there may be many Soldiers, Family members, and civilians who may need to know where or how to receive help," said Col. Christopher M. Benson, USAG Ansbach and Franconia Military Community commander. "Garrison leaders at all levels should also know this information as they engage their personnel during counseling and daily interactions."
There are three types of resources available to prevent, intervene and assist people with suicidal behaviors in the FMC:
-- Prevention Resources: The FMC's Army Substance Abuse Program, or ASAP, Suicide Prevention Program manager, who can be reached by calling 0980-283-3625 or DSN 467-3625, works with units and agencies to provide suicide prevention training and can connect people with a variety of resources. Army Community Service, or ACS, provides a number of classes relevant to managing stressors such as financial management and relationship and new parenting classes. Garrison chaplains offer services aimed at improving relationships and daily living. Soldiers and Civilians are encouraged to routinely complete the new and improved Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, through AKO or https://armyfit.army.mil to confidentially assess their physical and psychological health.
-- Intervention Resources: If you suspect someone is thinking about suicide, Ask them directly, "Are you thinking of killing yourself?" Care for them by actively listening and understanding their situation, and Escort them to an appropriate emergency resource. The Ask-Care-Escort process is also known as ACE. Emergency resources include the military police, an on-call garrison chaplain, unit ministry team chaplain, military family life consultant, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 0800-1273-8255 or DSN 118, and each individual's chain of command. It is a good idea to identify and add emergency resource phone numbers to your cellphone now before you need them.
-- Treatment Resources: Treatment for anxiety, mental health, and behavioral issues with the potential to lead to suicidal behaviors is available from Military Behavioral Health, Army Substance Abuse Program if alcohol or drug related, Family Advocacy Program if family related, and social work services. Additional resources available anonymously include military family life counselors, and Military One Source at www.militaryonesource.mil.
The Army has dedicated many resources to combat suicide, mental health issues, and the stigma and barriers associated with seeking help. Despite all these efforts, there are still Soldiers, Family members, and civilians who feel seeking help for mental health and suicide is a sign of weakness. Everyone must continue working together to eliminate the stigma associated with asking for help by supporting and encouraging those in our lives who need help to get help. The earlier we recognize that someone needs help (whether it is us or someone else), the sooner we can work on resolving issues and getting back to enjoying a healthy and productive life.
Additional information and resources for Soldiers and Civilians can be found online at the Department of the Army Suicide Prevention Program at www.preventsuicide.army.mil/, USAREUR Suicide Prevention and Awareness at www.eur.army.mil/SuicidePrevention/, and the USAG Ansbach ASAP Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/USAG-Ansbach-Army-Substance-Abuse-Program/300280103378793.
Every suicide can be prevented, and even one suicide is too many.