Signs of suicide: Watching your buddy's "6"
By Capt. Donell L. Barnett, Clinical Psychologist, U.S. Army Public Health CommandAugust 29, 2014
You are helping to reduce suicides in the Army.Soldiers at every rank continue to make efforts to help their buddies who might be struggling with thoughts of hurting themselves. We must continue to support our fellow Soldiers because one suicide is too many.All branches of the military have ramped up suicide prevention efforts. One example of this is the Army Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), which focuses on recognizing opportunities for leaders and buddies to intervene.The ASIST program encourages leaders to monitor common risk factors for suicide such as:• Failed or strained intimate relationships
• Previous suicidal behaviors, thoughts or attempts
• Behavioral health problems
Additionally, leaders, family members, buddies and friends can intervene when there are warning signs such as:• Changes in behavior like eating and sleeping habits, or work performance
• Suicide-related talk, hints or expressing a wish to die
• Isolation or withdrawal from social situationsThe Army also has collaborated with various institutions to help understand Soldiers who experience suicidal behavior. The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS) project has studied suicidal behavior in the Army, and the preliminary findings are noteworthy:1. Fourteen percent of Soldiers have considered suicide at some point in their lifetime.
2. There is a strong relationship between receiving a rank demotion and suicide risk, especially for Soldiers who have been recently demoted.
3. Life role problems (e.g., problems with home life, work performance, social life or close relationships) are also associated with increased suicide risk and other behavioral health problems.Other studies also highlight increased suicide risk for Soldiers with early life traumatic events, financial problems and non-deployment related factors such as adjusting to a new unit and family-related stress.Many factors can lead to suicidal behaviors. Still, you do not have to be a behavioral health provider to know when something is wrong or something has changed. You are in the best fighting position to watch your buddy's "6":1. Have the courage to ask. It's better to upset someone than to lose a life.
2. Familiarize yourself with the suicide warning signs and what they might look like in different MOS's and duty locations.
3. Recognize that everyone feels defeated at times and when combined with life stressors, it can be difficult for your buddy to get out of a slump by himself or herself.
4. Know where help is. If your buddy is concerned about going to a behavioral health provider, advise him or her to talk with a chaplain, medical provider or an anonymous crisis hotline.
5. Be willing to escort and support your buddy throughout the process; you might be the lifeline that he or she needs.
- August 5, 2020It’s Still Risk Management, part V
- August 2, 2020Flood study for Charleston peninsula draws sweeping public engagement with 500 comments
- July 31, 2020Construction reaches new heights on Red River of the North project
- July 29, 2020USAG Yongsan-Casey: AER slow-start no problem amid COVID-19
- July 22, 20207th Army NCOA students gain more knowledge, skills in suicide prevention
- July 22, 2020Washington National Guard members support Team Med Surge
- July 21, 2020No Ceremony, No Problem: Leadership and Listening Rules for New Commander
- July 21, 2020Soldiers learn to read their dogs
- July 20, 2020CCDC DAC: Forging the Future of Human Behavior Representation on the Battlefield
- July 15, 2020Public Health Command Europe warns about West Nile Virus
- July 14, 2020Deeply rooted safety protocols and methodical processes keep testing going safely despite pandemic
- July 13, 2020Pandemic another challenge for at-risk teens to overcome
- July 9, 2020COVID-19: It’s still risk management, part IV
- July 8, 2020Social worker invites pause to ponder PTSD
- July 7, 2020Solving problem of racism requires starting conversation about race