FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood resiliency experts hosted a suicide prevention awareness and education event Tuesday on Gerlach Field, in line with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
According to Malia Nemetz, Fort Leonard Wood Army Substance Abuse Program specialist and Installation Suicide Prevention Program manager, the event featured opportunities for service members, their families and civilians here to learn more about risk factors for suicide, the roles each member of the Fort Leonard Wood community play in getting help to those in need, along with some of the most effective strategies to build resiliency.
“Suicide prevention is a hard topic to talk about,” Nemetz said. “The only way we can prevent suicide is by forming connections with one another. Whether that’s someone from our civilian workforce, a service member, our family members, make a new friend out here – somebody, who, if you’re having a bad day, you can reach out to and have that connection.”
Soldiers and civilians from agencies such as the Army Wellness Center, the R2 Performance Center and the Behavioral Health Service Line set up information tables and team-building exercises and activities. Civilian employees in attendance also had the opportunity to gain credit for their mandatory fiscal year 2022 personal readiness training. The pooling of resources helped make the day even more beneficial, said Mike Jacobs, ASAP specialist.
“When we can partner together, I feel like everyone gets a better event, because every agency brings different resources,” Jacobs said. “Anything we can do to put resources in hands and be able to put names and people and faces together, that’s part of our goal.”
One of the attendees, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Wimer, from the Fort Leonard Wood Office of the Inspector General, said it is critical people know there is help out there, and that it’s OK to accept it.
“I think it’s really important for people to come out, look at suicide prevention and be involved in the community,” Wimer said. “Mental health issues have been on the rise, and people still have a stigma about asking for help, when we have so many resources, not only in the Army, but the community as a whole.”
Polly Guthrie, ASAP manager and one of the organizers of the event, thanked the agencies involved in making the event successful and said she looks forward to holding it again next September.
“We’re hoping it takes off, just like our R2 Fair has,” Guthrie said.
To learn more about support programs in place at Fort Leonard Wood, check out this article.