Army Unveils New Suicide Prevention Resources to Bolster Program Implementation

By Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness Communications & OutreachSeptember 6, 2023

The Army kicks off Suicide Prevention Month in September by unveiling several important new resources to bolster Army Suicide Prevention Program implementation across the force.

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The Army’s first standalone Suicide Prevention policy takes effect on Sept. 8. The new regulation codifies the public health approach that was first introduced in 2021 and lays a broad programmatic foundation for reducing harmful behaviors across the Department of the Army. The regulation describes the authorities, roles and responsibilities, program goals, and objectives designed to enhance protective factors while reducing stressors that may lead to harmful behaviors.

The regulation follows the publication of two handbooks in fiscal year 2022: “Senior Commander’s Guide to Suicide Prevention, Reducing Suicide in Army Formations” and “Call to Action: Suicide Prevention - Reducing Suicide in Army Formations Brigade and Battalion Commander’s Handbook.”

Modeled on seven evidence-based prevention strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, the regulation and guidebooks recognize that prevention of harmful behaviors depends on the employment of a comprehensive and integrated approach by leaders at all levels.

The seven strategies include: strengthening financial readiness, strengthening access and delivery of suicide prevention care, creating protective environments and healthy climates, promoting connectedness, teaching coping and problem-solving skills, identifying and supporting people at risk, and lessening harm and preventing future risk.

These strategies are intended to work across multiple levels--individual, interpersonal, unit, installation, and societal. However, all levels must be synchronized to address a complex and serious problem.

“Engaged leadership is foundational to the success of the Army’s suicide prevention policy,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9, who leads the headquarters staff that oversees the Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness and its Army Suicide Prevention Program. “The regulation and supporting handbooks and resources will help command teams implement the suicide prevention program in a consistent manner across the force.”

“This new regulation is based on the best available evidence in suicide prevention,” said Ms. Carrie Shult, Army Suicide Prevention Program manager. “It increases emphasis on whole-person and whole-of-community primary prevention approaches before a crisis is reached.”

Shult said the regulation addresses requirements and provides implementing guidance on the three components of suicide prevention: prevention, intervention, and postvention.

“The prevention section describes actions to inform Command Teams, Soldiers and Family members about risk and protective factors; combat stigma; deliver suicide prevention, resilience, and bystander training; provide lethal means safety counseling, education and resources; and encourage utilization of help-seeking resources such as behavioral health, the chaplaincy, or military and family life counselors,” said Shult.

“The intervention section includes instructions to facilitate constructive care,” said Shult. “Intervention starts with individuals and organizations understanding how to

recognize, act, and assist Army team members in accessing resources to strengthen personal resilience.”

Shult said, “The postvention section describes the structured activities commanders should do after a death or suicide attempt to navigate the grief and loss, and to build back resilience and return the unit to a state of readiness."

Lethal Means Safety Toolkit

Putting time and space between an individual considering suicide and a lethal means such as a gun is critical to reducing the risk of intentional self-harm. That’s why the Army published a new Lethal Means Safety or LMS Toolkit.

The toolkit is a multi-level guidebook that contains tactics, techniques, and evidence-based activities that encourage safe storage of weapons and medication. The toolkit also contains guidance and resources geared towards commanders and leaders on how to integrate Lethal Means Safety in their roles to reduce harmful behaviors and prevent suicide more effectively.

“The toolkit will enable users to expand their understanding of Lethal Means Safety and engage with the Army community to build a more secure environment to help prevent future risk,” said Ms. Dee Geise, the Army G-9 Director of the Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness.

The toolkit, which includes LMS communication materials and checklists for commanders, Soldiers and Family members, offers practical ways to incorporate LMS at work and home:

  • Support training and education in LMS, including training for spouses and children.
  •     Challenge common misconceptions, stigma, and other barriers to discussing and practicing LMS.
  •     Normalize secure storage behaviors via discussion and demonstration.
  •     Discuss how LMS is applicable to general violence and accident prevention, not just suicide prevention.
  • ·   Discuss reasons why Soldiers and Family members don’t practice secure storage and suggest additional or alternative methods to create a safe environment.

Ask, Care, Escort—Suicide Intervention Information Sheet

To strengthen the Army Suicide Prevention Program, the Army recently published an information sheet to guide leaders on how to implement Ask, Care, Escort—Suicide Intervention or ACE-SI training within their units.

As the Army’s only suicide intervention training, ACE-SI provides comprehensive instruction on how to intervene in crisis situations appropriately and deliberately, and to recognize and assist individuals who are dealing with challenges.

“This training focuses on increasing knowledge of suicide-related and help-seeking behaviors and stigmas, protective and risk factors, warning signs, early and crisis intervention, and postvention principles,” said Ms. Casey Eidemiller, Chief of Training for the Army G-9

Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness.

ACE-SI training program objectives include teaching participants to remain calm, how to ask directly about thoughts of suicide and how to express empathy and safely escort at-risk individuals to the appropriate response agency or to remain with them until help arrives.

According to Eidemiller, Army team members learn about their roles in postvention response after someone dies by suicide as well as their reintegration responsibilities for individuals returning to a unit after a suicide attempt.

“The program shows service members at all levels how to promote help-seeking behavior and intervention, with the goal of ensuring the wellness, health and morale of everyone in the Army community,” Eidemiller said.

“Prepare. Perform. Succeed.”

The Army recently fielded new Ready and Resilient, or R2, awareness materials, under the tagline “Prepare. Perform. Succeed.”

In addition to boosting endurance and performance, resilience is a protective factor that buffers against stressors that may lead to harmful behaviors such as suicide.

The new awareness materials highlight the numerous suicide prevention and resilience training resources available through the 33 Army Ready and Resilient Performance Centers around the globe.

For additional information about the Army Suicide Prevention Program, please visit