September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Fort Jackson is organizing several events to focus on the prevention and intervention of suicide."This year we're the theme is 'Be There,'" said Laly Rodriguez,
Suicide Prevention Program manager. For this year's events, Rodriguez is networking with other units and offices on post to help spread the word, including the 81st Regional Support
Command, the National Guard, Army Community Service and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.'"This is the first time we're working in collaboration," she said. "We want to have the support
of each other and take the best of each other."For example, FMWR's monthly 5K/10K event, scheduled for 8-10 a.m. Sept. 10 at Semmes Lake, has been themed for September in support of Suicide Prevention Month.Rodriguez said that a combination of training and communication are essential in the Army's fight against suicide, as is eliminating the stigma attached to mental health issues. While she conducts regular weekly ACE training sessions for units on post throughout the year, additional sessions will be added throughout September in support of the mission.ACE stands for "Ask, Care and Escort," and is a three-hour training that provides Soldiers
with the knowledge and skills to intervene with those at risk for suicide.ACE also encourages Soldiers to challenge battle buddies who exhibit suicidal warning
signs, providing a set of guidelines for early intervention.Rodriguez will also be hosting a special training session in conjunction with the 81st Regional Support Command on Sept. 26 and 27."We're both going to provide training but this year it's going to be different," she said. "There's going to be a lot of interaction, a lot of reeducation. The goal is to have more participation."
In 2014, there were 269 deaths by suicide among active component service members, up from the 259 deaths by suicide in 2013. There were 169 deaths by suicide among the selected reserve component in 2014, 80 in the reserve and 89 in the National Guard.According to the Defense Department's fourth-quarter suicide report for 2015, 266 active-duty service members committed suicide that year.The stigma associated with suicide is believed to be one of leading reasons people do not seek help. Personal relationships, money and work are the most common stressors, Rodriguez said."Unfortunately, problems are not going to stop," she said. "Most likely you're going to have stressors. But, if you learn resiliency, how to deal with those issues, I'm sure the numbers will
be less."So far, she said, our culture has a long way to go toward eliminating the stigma associated with mental health issues."I want to say yes, it's getting better," she said. "But whenever I ask one of my classes, they say no ... it's not changing. They don't feel comfortable enough to go to their commander and say 'I
don't feel right. I need to go an get help.' When I brief the first sergeant and commander,
I always tell them that it's imperative they promote mental health."The Army has a number of suicide prevention programs available to Soldiers, civilians
and family members through Military OneSource, Army Community Service and military family and
life counselors.For more information about suicide prevention, contact the Suicide Prevention Office at 751-7294.
People in crisis should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Press 1 for the Military Crisis Line.