By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsAugust 29, 2019
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 29, 2019) -- September is Suicide Prevention Month, and Fort Drum's Army Substance Abuse and Prevention staff will be reaching out to community members all month with their annual awareness campaign.
"Our goal is to raise awareness in our community about suicide, and to educate on ways to prevent and intervene when somebody is at risk," said Amy Kilionski, ASAP Risk Reduction Program coordinator. "We also want everybody to know what resources are available in the area for help, whether it's for themselves or somebody they care about."
Kilionski said that there will be events for everyone across Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division (LI) to attend.
"Suicide does not discriminate, and it is something that affects everyone. So we wanted to have something for every member of the community to attend," she said.
*All Soldiers, family members and DoD civilians can attend Suicide Prevention and ASAP Training from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Multipurpose Auditorium. The program will fulfill the annual training requirement for those two classes. No reservation is required.
*Noncommissioned officers, captains and above, and warrant officers can attend the IMCOM Tier 1 Ask, Care, Escort (ACE) - Suicide Intervention (SI) Training from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Bldg. 10250 on 4th Armored Division Drive. This is a "Train the Trainer" course to instruct ACE and ACE-SI at the unit level and at in-processing. To register, call (315) 772-9018.
*ASIST T2T "Gatekeeper" class will be offered for all Soldiers and DoD civilians to learn advanced suicide intervention skills. The course will meet 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 17-18 at Bldg. 10250 on 4th Armored Division Drive.
*A safeTALK class for parents is scheduled 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Youth Center, Bldg. 10788, Chapel Drive.
*A safeTALK class for teens 15 and older is scheduled 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Youth Center, Bldg. 10788, Chapel Drive.
Kilionski said that safeTalk is a program facilitated by the Suicide Prevention Center of New York to show participants how to recognize warning signs that a person may be considering ending his or her life.
"A lot of times people are afraid to ask. We want to empower them on how to talk to somebody about suicide, and how to help them," Kilionski said.
The class teaches how to engage at-risk people, the importance of active listening and how to support them with community resources.
"Oftentimes teens don't know how to help somebody that they know, and parents don't know what to look for in their own teens," Kilionski said. "Teens have a lot of things going on in their lives, and different kind of stressors, and their mood changes tend to be more dramatic than adults. We want parents to be able to understand what kind of things to look for - is it regular teen angst or is this something requiring intervention?"
Registration is limited to 30 participants in each class. To register for either safeTALK class, call (315) 772-2597.
ASAP personnel will have an informational booth at the Run for Recovery event Sept. 7 at Watertown Fairgrounds, and on Sept. 14 at Memorial Park during the Memorial to Monument Run. A static display will be set up at Clark Hall throughout the month, as well as at the Post Exchange on Sept. 13, Sept. 21 and Sept. 30 with personnel available to answer questions.
"We also are bringing back the Ghost Formation display, which is a static display of six combat boots painted white to represent Fort Drum Soldiers who have died by suicide," Kilionski said. "The reasoning for six is represent the six major Army units stationed here, but really, it signifies the losses of our entire community."
The Ghost Formation will be rotated weekly, starting at the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade dining facility, then Magrath Sports Complex, the Post Exchange and Clark Hall. It also will displayed at the Memorial to Monument Run on Sept. 14 and at the Post Exchange on Sept. 21 during Retiree Appreciation Day.
"I feel like it's a very moving display," said Amanda Mason, ASAP Prevention Branch chief. "The intent is to move it around the installation to give as many people an opportunity to see it as we can."
Mason said that the Fort Drum ASAP works yearround to educate and encourage community members to not only learn how to identify, prevent and intervene when encountering suicidal behavior in others, but also to counter the stigma surrounding suicides.
"You need to know your people - your family, your friends, your workmates - so you can spot changes in behavior and warning signs," she said. "Instead of thinking that everything is fine or will work itself out, you have to pay attention, you have to reach out and you have to react."
With that being said, Mason said that they also teach people how to take action by responding indirectly.
"Some people don't have the confidence or are really unsure about reaching out to someone in need directly," she said. "That's why we teach people about all the community resources available. You can reach out to your chain of command, reach out to a chaplain or a military family life consultant who will help you if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself. The important thing is not to ignore it or shy away from it."
To learn more about Suicide Prevention Month events at Fort Drum, call (315) 772-9018 or visit https://www.facebook.com/FortDrumASAP/.