GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – In collaboration with the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Army Substance Abuse Program, the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy conducted face-to-face suicide prevention courses at Grafenwoehr and Vilseck, Germany, in July. This course aimed to train noncommissioned officers to take action in preventing suicide cases in their units.
The 7th Army NCOA leaders recognized the need for resilience in order to fully develop future leaders. The 7th NCOA leaders wanted the academy students to have a diverse skill set in handling sensitive topics so that they can better lead their Soldiers.
“It is one of our commanding general’s efforts to attack suicide prevention,” said 1st Sgt. William Richardson, 7th Army NCOA Deputy Commandant. “We need to ensure that all of our leaders are knowledgeable and informed on sensitive topics such as suicide. If the time comes, they are capable of helping [others].”
Every year, thousands of people around the world die by suicide. This training ensured that Soldiers are aware of the resources they can utilize to get the help they need.
“Suicide prevention is one of the core programs within the Army Substance Abuse Program,” said Young Hwang, the suicide prevention course instructor at ASAP.
After the ASAP staff collaborated with 7th ATC and the NCOA command teams, an opportunity was discussed to captivate new leaders and enhance their skills in recognizing warning signs in their formations and prevent or intervene suicide crisis as needed.
“This training is specifically geared toward the new junior leaders to guarantee they are fully equipped early in their career to learn and navigate suicide-related concerns and situations,” said Hwang. “The prevention skills will assist them to mitigate, prevent, and train others in suicide prevention.”
Training Soldiers on suicide prevention remains one of the U.S. Army’s top priorities to ensure the greatest fighting force in the world can maintain combat readiness and the safety of their personnel.
“Suicide is an issue everywhere, but, in the military, it detracts from readiness by not having everyone in the fight. It takes a huge toll on a unit’s morale,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Wood, chief instructor at the 7th Army NCOA. “As a leader, we understand that, in combat, you never know what’s going to happen, but issues that lead to suicide are something that leaders, friends, and family can discuss and mitigate.”
Suicide can have a significant impact, and many people may not realize how much it affects those who suffered from losing a comrade.
“I take this very personally,” said Sgt. 1st Class Cody Boney, senior instructor at the 7th Army NCOA. “I lost a dear friend of mine to suicide years ago, and I often ask myself if there were warning signs I didn’t see.”
Students found the course to be helpful in teaching them the skills needed to prevent or intervene suicide crisis.
“I learned a lot attending this class,” said Spc. Daniel Ramirez, a Soldier assigned to 7th Army Training Command Joint Multinational Simulation Center. “As a future NCO, I want to be able to help my Soldiers with anything they might be going through, and now I feel like I am more capable of doing that.”
The 7th Army NCOA instructors wanted the course participants to understand that the troop morale is key to mission readiness.
“Suicide in the military affects the family and friends that loved the individual for the rest of their lives,” said Boney. “We have to be ready to deploy and engage the enemies of the U.S. Dealing with the emotions you have after a loved one’s suicide can almost be overwhelming. In this profession, we cannot afford for our focus to be taken away for that long.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please use the following resources:
- Military Crisis Line: Call 00800.1273.8255. A live internet-based chat service is also available at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/military-crisis-line.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call DSN 118. A live internet-based chat service is also available at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.