New training developed for COVID-19 stressors and combatting suicide
By Scott WakefieldSeptember 22, 2020
As many of us have probably realized, dealing with the stress and tension of coping with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic can be extremely taxing.According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the fear and anxiety of having to deal with the actual pandemic and a wide range of conflicting information about the virus can cause stress in both adults and children. Added to that, the need for social distancing can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness.Billy Hallmark is the Army Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention Programs Manager for the Detroit Arsenal. He is working on training to help those feeling the pressure from isolation and social distancing.“Training constantly needs to change to meet the needs of the current situation,” Hallmark said, “Due to the impact of COVID-19, racial tension, job loss, grief, isolation, political tension, and the unpredictability of life increases stress and depression and needs to be addressed.”All of these types of stressors can lead to thoughts of suicide or harming one’s self.Suicide is still a major problem facing all branches of military service, and for those put under similar pressures. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, which makes it an opportune time to adapt training to fit new situations caused by the pandemic.“Suicidal ideations are a major warning sign that an individual’s brain might not be functioning correctly, and immediate attention is needed,” Hallmark said.Some of these ideations may include someone talking about killing themselves, demonstrating feelings of hopelessness, or feeling trapped. According to Hallmark, many individuals fail to seek help themselves due to the perceived stigma that it may make them appear weak both spiritually and mentally.“If an individual feels they need to talk to someone immediately call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255,” Hallmark said.However, if you are on the Detroit Arsenal and feel you need assistance, the chaplain or the Employee Assistance Center is there to help.A lot of times, individuals will turn to someone they trust with their intentions, sometimes referred to as a lifesaver. Hallmark cautions about trying to hand these individuals off to professionals too soon. He says that these lifesavers need to let the trust build enough to where a warm handoff can be made between the lifesaver and the professional.Failing to do this could result in an individual’s denial for the need of help due to embarrassment.The new training course is in final revision and is being presented to garrison leadership for approval. Keep an eye on TED and the TACOM portal for course updates.