22-663 - Unit Leaders Guide to Suicide Prevention

By Center for Army Lessons LearnedDecember 15, 2021

Executive Summary

The purpose of this handbook is to thoroughly examine, from a leadership perspective, the fundamental concepts and engagement necessary to develop and execute an effective suicide prevention program. The suicide prevention framework utilizes visibility tools, which assess risk and protective factors. The suicide prevention framework also establishes a unit forum to operationalize the suicide prevention program through the operations process.

There is no single action that can prevent suicide. However, leaders who apply consistent and systematic whole-of-person approaches can positively impact individual and unit readiness. This handbook presents a vision of an Army built on a culture of trust. Soldiers can build strength and confidence in each another through the application of these principles, practices, and qualities.

  • Suicide results from complex, interrelated factors, and therefore prevention must be comprehensive. This handbook describes the strengthening influence of recognized protective factors in many facets of Soldiers’ and Army families’ lives.
  • In suicide prevention, active engagement is important in identifying early indicators of risk propensity. Early identification can prevent destructive outcomes through graduated assistance, building protective factors, and intervening before the risk behavior is acted out.
  • Many risk behaviors can have severe personal, family, and mission readiness impacts, and result in legal and administrative actions. This handbook provides guidance on managing the effects of some of these risk behaviors, and mitigating where possible.
  • This handbook also identifies the unit resources and community prevention workforces that are associated with risk and protective factors. Leaders need to be aware of the available resources to maintain the highest unit readiness, personnel readiness, and the individual Soldiers’ ability to perform their duties.

The Army community of prevention professionals stands ready to address concerns and provide the necessary resources to assist leaders in meeting the daily challenges they face while managing the Army’s most incredible resource, its people.

This handbook is intended to be a user friendly “living document.” It is geared toward offering leaders evidence-supported insight into the identification of the risk and protective factors that affects Soldiers’ lives, their readiness and resiliency, unit-level readiness, and the unit’s ability to accomplish its mission. When this handbook is used in conjunction with the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) handbook, Building Cohesive Teams, 6 April 2021, command teams can establish a culture of trust. This can help identify and address risk and protective factors, and significantly reduce the possibility of a catastrophic outcome.

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22-663.pdf [PDF - 5.8 MB]

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