By Shayna Brouker (IMCOM)October 7, 2014
WIESBADEN, Germany - Ciarra Rhodes, 13, was smart, happy, talented, caring, and "more than anything, loved."
"She did not withdraw from life," said her father, Dusty Rhodes, an assistant manager at the Rheinblick Golf Course, remembering her musical talent and the time she convinced her class to raise €10,000 for a charity that touched her heart.
How somebody who seemed so happy could kill herself -- and the piercing scream that resonated throughout the house when his wife found her dead in her bedroom that December morning -- will forever haunt him and his wife, he said.
Rhodes gripped the audience that filled the Wiesbaden Fitness Center with his heartbreaking story of the beloved daughter who died by suicide less than a year ago. His family's tragedy was one of several told during the Suicide Stand-Down Sept. 25.
Col. Mary Martin, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, implored community members to offer an encouraging word or a helping hand to pick up anyone who seems to be struggling, reflecting on a friend who took his life in 1992.
"To this day I still wonder what did I miss, what could I have done?" she said. "Each one of us has the power and each one of us has this responsibility."
In the U.S. Army Europe footprint between January 2013 and September 2014, there have more than 200 attempted suicides. Of those, 12 resulted in death.
But the takeaways from the stand-down offered hope and solutions -- talk to someone. For those concerned about confidentiality and a mental health visit on their military record, chaplains and Military Family Life Consultants must keep all visits confidential and no records are kept.
Rebecca Morrison, a suicide survivor communications liaison with the Tragedy Assistance Program, or TAPS, knows all too well.?Her husband, an Apache helicopter pilot, West Point grad and all-around "superman," killed himself following a 2011 deployment to Iraq when he was just 26. She was 24.
"To say my world crashed that day is an understatement," she said. "He was my every dream, my whole being. The pain that he inflicted on himself was transferred to myself and everyone who loved him."
But as a trained counselor, she knew she had to get help. Surviving family members of suicide victims are three to five times more likely to commit suicide themselves. She went to counseling the next day -- "the one thing I did right."
"If you get the help you need early on, you have a much better success rate," she added.
She fought the urge to stay in bed and cry all day and made a pact with herself that she was of enough value to do something she enjoyed every day. She started riding her horse again and today, she can laugh again.
Morrison offered additional resources for service members. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK. Vets4Warriors is a 24/7 confidential and anonymous hotline staffed completely by veterans from all branches for service members and family members struggling with suicidal thoughts. The number is 855-838-8255; from outside the U.S., call mil 312-560-1110 or civ (719) 567-1110.?
Martin closed the stand-down with a question:"How many of you know someone who has attempted or has died by suicide?" Nearly half of the audience members raised their hands.
"The small act will be the intervention needed. You don't have to do it alone," she said. "Seeking help -- that's not a weakness, that's a strength."
Wiesbaden's Military and Family Life Consultants can be reached at civ (0175) 617-5799 or (0152) 2659-7638.?The Alcohol Substance Abuse Program can be reached at mil 548-1400 or civ (0611) 143-548-1400. For more resources on suicide prevention visit www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp.