USAG DAEGU, South Korea - 'Suicide prevented is a life extended'. This is a key message that the 'Second Chance' play delivers to audiences.
United States Army Garrison Daegu held a training play entitled "Second Chance", in observance of Suicide Awareness Month, Sept. 26 at the Camp Henry Theater. Nearly 100 people attended this event, including Col. Robert P. Mann Jr., Command Sgt. Maj. Juan A. Abreu, USAG Daegu, and Ms. Vanessa L. Mitchell, USAG Daegu Army Substance Abuse Program Manager.
Abreu gave opening remarks saying, "I know that many of you have different reasons why you're here. I want you all to take some time to think about someone in your life, someone you may know, or even yourself. And one thing we want to try to do is prevent you from thinking that suicide is the right solution to solve your problem. So, I want you to take this play and invest your time. It'll touch you, and it'll make you cry. Also, I want you to know that we have our Chaplain assistants here, Healthcare providers here, and we have commanders and leaders, sitting with you. Don't be too brave or too strong not to ask for help."
The purpose of the play is to educate Soldiers about suicide prevention and reduce the number of suicides. It was written and performed by Area I Soldiers and hosted by the Area I ASAP office. The play provided Soldiers with a visual training in the form of a play depicting the consequences of one's decision making which leads to suicide. The story is about a Soldier who attempts to commit suicide, focuses on the conditions that led to it and the steps that should be taken to help prevent it, while emphasizing the Army's Ask-Care-Escort training.
After the play, Pvt. John Calderon, one of the cast members shared his personal experiences in front of the audience stating, "I've tried to send out this speech numerous times. It doesn't get easier. In most of the speech, I've been holding back because I was too embarrassed to say the whole truth. You're going to be the first audience. Three months ago, I had a suicide attempt in my barracks. I was going through a very bad relationship. Everyone I knew that loved me was on the other side of the ocean and couldn't get to them. I felt worthless like no one would love me. I heard multiple knocks on my door. A friend of mine and NCOs were standing out there trying to get in, then calmly walked toward me and calmed me down. They never left me, and now I'm here. They saved my life."
Calderon's speech moved people's hearts and brought many to tears. Expressing their respect for him, audiences applauded loudly. After finishing his speech, Colonel Mann remarked that he had never seen a better closing comment for an audience. He also thanked all Soldiers who performed in the play. "I truly appreciate the courage it took to get up here and talk to strangers about your experiences. Thank you. Actually, this is some of the best Army training I've been to in 23 years. You're the best team in the world, U.S. Army," said Mann.
After the play was over, all cast members returned to the stage and were met with great applause. Soldiers received a certificate of achievement from Mann and Abreu and took pictures with them.
One of the audience members, Pfc. Tracy Sanders, USAG Daegu Chaplain's assistant, gave her thoughts about the play. "I felt really emotional. I know some friends that experience similar situations like this, and I've even suffered hardships. I learned a lot, because I can also go through the same thing. The most memorable scene was when they were given a second chance."
"Our department, ASAP, is very important. We would like to let Soldiers know the importance of suicide prevention and give them information about how to deal with a situation through the play. We hope that it would help Soldiers prevent suicide. Suicide is not the right solution because suicide doesn't really solve the problem. That's why USAG Daegu holds this play for Soldiers," Mitchell said.
Every day an Active Duty service member, reservist or veteran commits, or attempts to commit, suicide. Many people find themselves in difficult situations, feeling alone and without hope. Someone you know, someone next to you, or even you could be contemplating suicide. The play 'Second Chance' is a heartfelt and accurate depiction of how Soldiers can come to feel isolated and overwhelmed by their circumstances and how those around them can take positive action to change a potentially tragic outcome.