By Mr. Jeff L Troth (Army Medicine)September 6, 2017
By Jeff Troth, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity -- Fort Carson PAO
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- #BeThe1To… Be the one to save a life. Be the one to ask. Be the one to keep them safe. Be the one to help.
These are just a few of the things everyone can BE to help reduce suicides during National Suicide Awareness month and year round. September has been designated as a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic.
"September is a good time to talk about these things, but our suicide prevention mission on Fort Carson is year round," said Lt. Col. John Yeaw, chief of the Medical Department Activity--Fort Carson Behavioral Health Department. "Throughout the year we provide support to Soldiers who are in distress."
One of the ways the behavioral health staff helps Soldiers is being where they are.
"We are spread across the installation," Yeaw said. "We are right there in their brigade footprint with our embedded behavioral health teams. So if a Soldier is in crisis we are close by and available to help them."
But being close to the Soldiers is only half the battle to prevent suicides. The other half of their mission is education for Soldiers and their leaders.
Each behavioral health team has an outreach program within their brigade to educate commanders and leaders on what to do and where to go for assistance if they have a possibly suicidal Soldier.
"We help them to identify what things to look for and then what to do if they have a Soldier in crisis," said Yeaw. "The units on this installation have a really good relationship with our embedded behavioral health providers and know they can reach us 24/7."
If a Soldier with suicidal ideations goes to, or is brought to, one of the embedded behavioral health teams or the Evans Army Community Hospital emergency room, they are assessed to determine what level of treatment they need.
"An evaluation is conducted by the provider and the determination made on what would be the best level of care and the best treatment plan for that Soldier," said Yeaw. "That plan is a team effort between us, the Soldier and their command."
For Soldiers who need more acute care, they are admitted to Evans' inpatient behavior health program. The other end of the treatment spectrum is once a week outpatient counseling sessions.
"We also have a robust intensive outpatient program where we see the Soldier for a few hours multiple days each week," Yeaw said. "All of our programs are designed to help Soldiers get stabilized and return to duty as quickly as possible."
Yeaw said he has an excellent team of providers. But just like with treatment plans, suicide prevention is not just a behavioral health mission.
The Fort Carson Army Substance Abuse Program also offers a class to help save lives. The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, is a two-day workshop in suicide first aid.
"If someone is in a position where they could have to do a suicide intervention, ASIST is a good thing to have in your tool belt," said Cherll Paxton, manager of Fort Carson's Suicide Prevention Program. "It is not your standard someone getting up and just speaking, it is very interactive."
ASIST teaches participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that supports their immediate safety. Workshop participants gain knowledge about suicide, skills to reach out and confidence to help save a life.
If you want to #BeThe1To save a life, stop by one of the brigade embedded behavioral health teams or call the Behavioral Health Clinic at 526-7155. To enroll in an upcoming ASIST workshop, call Paxton at 526-0401.