Outreach and empathy: Daegu 'Connects to Protect' during Suicide Prevention Month

By Mathew GleesonSeptember 29, 2022

CAMP WALKER, Republic of Korea — United States Army Garrison Daegu hosted two Resiliency Day events in September as part of Suicide Prevention Month initiatives focused on outreach within the community.

Held at Camp Walker on Sept. 8 and Camp Carroll on Sept. 27, the open house style events brought community members face-to-face with local resource providers, including representatives of the Religious Service Office and Military and Family Life Counseling Program (MFLC).

Soldiers interact with a resource provider during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Walker, Republic of Korea, September 8, 2022. The U.S. Army Garrison Daegu Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and reach out to others experiencing suicidal ideations.
Soldiers interact with a resource provider during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Walker, Republic of Korea, September 8, 2022. The U.S. Army Garrison Daegu Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and reach out to others experiencing suicidal ideations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Mathew Gleeson) VIEW ORIGINAL

"People need to know about resources in order to utilize them, so we bring all of those resource providers to one location with table displays. You can walk through in 10 to 15 minutes and meet a resource provider that you might not know about and talk to them," said Suicide Prevention Program Manager Malcolm Wolfe, Jr.

"You might need that resource. If not, you might be able to refer that resource to a friend, family member or someone else."

Suicide Prevention Program Manager Malcolm Wolfe, Jr. explains the importance of reaching out to others during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Carroll, Republic of Korea, September 27, 2022. The Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and assist with suicide prevention.
Suicide Prevention Program Manager Malcolm Wolfe, Jr. explains the importance of reaching out to others during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Carroll, Republic of Korea, September 27, 2022. The Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and assist with suicide prevention. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Mathew Gleeson) VIEW ORIGINAL

"This is an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and network — it's all about connectiveness."

The Department of Defense has asked leaders across the DoD, service members, military families, and DoD civilians to connect with one another and with resources to prevent suicide.

USAG Daegu Commander Col. Brian P. Schoellhorn and USAG Daegu Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathon J. Blue signed pledges to intervene if they noticed suicidal risk behaviors in others. They also discussed the importance of individual outreach with Soldiers and civilians.

"I think for many of us, when something knocks you down in life the thought of suicide is way down on the list of coping mechanisms. It's disturbing to me that for a lot of younger people it's not. That for some, the thought of getting back up is harder than not getting back up at all," said Schoellhorn.

U.S. Army Garrison Daegu Commander Col. Brian P. Schoellhorn discusses empathy's role in suicide prevention during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Walker, Republic of Korea, September 8, 2022. The Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and reach out to others experiencing suicidal ideations.
U.S. Army Garrison Daegu Commander Col. Brian P. Schoellhorn discusses empathy's role in suicide prevention during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Walker, Republic of Korea, September 8, 2022. The Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and reach out to others experiencing suicidal ideations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Mathew Gleeson) VIEW ORIGINAL
"We need to be more empathetic. We need to recognize what's going on with someone and say 'Hey, are you okay?' That's what our resource providers do. That's why events like this are great because it's a whole community approach. If you have something going on with your life we have things that can help you."

Garrison leadership also called on members of the community to intervene when they notice people struggling.

"You don't need a doctor's degree or a special certificate to recognize that people are going through something. What it takes is knowing that person, knowing what the risk factors are and then knowing what the signs are," said Blue.

"Behavioral health specialists are useless if they aren't being utilized, and we will be useless as well if we recognize the signs of suicide but don't intervene."

U.S. Army Garrison Daegu Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathon J. Blue signs a pledge to intervene when others need help during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Walker, Republic of Korea, September 8, 2022. The Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and reach out to others experiencing suicidal ideations.
U.S. Army Garrison Daegu Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathon J. Blue signs a pledge to intervene when others need help during a Resiliency Day event at Camp Walker, Republic of Korea, September 8, 2022. The Army Substance Abuse Program team organized the event to educate the community about resources available to help people navigate adversity and reach out to others experiencing suicidal ideations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Mathew Gleeson) VIEW ORIGINAL

Although suicide prevention often means asking difficult questions, Wolfe said intervention can be accomplished by anyone.

"We can intervene just by talking to someone, just starting a conversation. Showing that you care. Because you really don't care how much I know until you know how much I care. And if you know how much I care, maybe you start looking into the future and you don't isolate."

In addition to Resiliency Days, the USAG Daegu Army Substance Abuse Program team ramped up community outreach efforts for suicide prevention during September with live AFN Radio broadcasts, table displays at dining facilities and commissaries, as well as multiple training events.