Story by Master Sgt. Shelia Cooper
3rd Infantry Division Public AffairsWhile September is the month that Soldiers and organizations across Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield bring awareness to suicide prevention, the installation offers year-round support to all Soldiers, dependents, civilians, and contractors who need help.The Army and the installation's suicide prevention program is incredibly robust; however, the culture needs to change."To remove the stigma, we have to shift the culture," said Dr. Travis G. Morgan, behavioral health clinical team lead for the Division Artillery and 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. "Changing the culture has to start from all levels, top, bottom, and middle. It is tremendously important to saving a life."There are numerous programs, initiatives, and efforts across the installation, designed to assist Soldiers who are having a hard time coping with Family, work, and everyday life; as well as suicidal ideation.
"We have behavioral health specialists, Army Community Service, Military Family Life Consultants, legal, chain of command, and chaplains that can assist Soldiers in need," said Morgan.Morgan stated that his clinic deals with Soldiers; however, if anyone comes to his clinic with suicidal ideation, they would receive help.
Every Soldier, dependent, and civilian on the installation has a responsibility and commitment to reach out by helping those who are at risk of suicide."Effective suicide prevention requires every Soldier, Family members, and civilians to be aware of the signs for suicide and know how to respond," said Maj. (Chaplain) William Robinson, 3rd ID deputy chaplain. "Soldiers should look for significant life changes."The signs of suicide include, but are not limited to:
• Threats to harm oneself or others.
• Buying or seeking firearms and pills.
• Talking or writing about death or suicide.
• Feeling hopeless or trapped.
• Increased drug and alcohol use.
• Engaging in reckless and risky behavior.
• Outburst of rage, anger or dramatic mood changes
• Withdrawing from work, society, Family, and/or friends
"You have to have a relationship with the people before asking a question like "Do you want to harm yourself," said Robinson. "This sort of question should be asked by someone who has intimate knowledge about the Soldier, like a team leader or squad leader."If a person is suicidal, the time to take action is now start by employing the three components of ACE: Ask, Care, and Escort.
ASK - Each person has the responsibility to ask your buddy if they have thoughts of harming themselves.CARE- Care for them in a time of need by removing them from the environment and potentially harmful items, actively listen, stay calm, and control the situation. Escort your buddy - Never leave your buddy alone.ESCORT: Escort the individual to someone who can help them. This may include their chain of command or supervisor, Military Family Life Consultant, a chaplain, primary care provider, or a behavioral health professional.Soldiers don't need to face the world alone; there are events on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield that can help create a sense of community.
"Soldiers want to be part of something," said Robinson. "There are a lot of events within our community that helps build relationships and bonds between groups of people. Most people need to just put their phones down, build real relationships, and be connected to each other."
With these connected relationships, battle buddies are usually the first to notice high risk and behavioral changes. Lend a hand to those in need by getting them to a professional who can help.If you or someone you know have suicidal ideation, please contact one of the following organizations listed below.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
• Military One Source at 1- 800-342-9647.
• 24-hour Installation Operation Center Chaplain at 767-8666/8667.
• Child and Family Behavioral Health Clinic at 435-5707.
• Your respective Brigade MFLC.