Connect to protect

By Andrew MonathSeptember 7, 2023

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. —  As we enter the colder seasons, feelings of loneliness, isolation and anxiety may increase as more time is spent indoors, away from friends and family. The holiday season can be a difficult time for some and serve as a time of reflection on personal losses. September is Suicide Prevention Month, and it is a great time to reach out to your Soldiers, Civilians, family members and friends — especially those who you think may be experiencing these feelings.

The Army is kicking off the month by releasing the first major formal doctrine addressing suicide prevention and response, Army Regulation 600-92. Several official minor resources are now being consolidated into one comprehensive regulation which provides crucial information for how commanders can work on suicide prevention in their units.

CECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Conaty describes the new regulation as a guide to help us “look for those who may be struggling and how we can help — sometimes a simple hello goes a long way for those in a dark place.”

This year, the Army’s theme, “You Are a Light in Somebody’s Life,” highlights the critical role that relationships and interpersonal connections with family, friends and the community play in suicide prevention. Although September is Suicide Prevention Month, we should always take time to raise awareness pertaining to the stigmatization often associated with seeking mental health services.

“Every single suicide is one tragedy too many,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth stated. “The Army is committed to …doing everything we can to address this critical issue.”

As of Sept. 30, 2022, the number of total Army suicides decreased by approximately 21% since Sept. 30, 2021. In addition, the number for family members also decreased by about 21%, and the number for Department of the Army civilian employees decreased by nearly 50%. This current trend indicates that initiatives that were implemented during the last couple of years, including ones that encourage help-seeking behavior, are helping to decrease the number of suicides.

The Army Suicide Prevention Program educates and trains active duty, reserve and National Guard Soldiers, Army Civilians and family members on suicide prevention and postvention actions to minimize the risk of suicide. The program also aims to improve Army readiness by developing and enhancing Army Suicide Prevention Program policies, training, data collection and analysis, and strategic communications designed to prevent suicide and support those affected by suicide.

Please be sure to always remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.

Suicide can affect anyone, including the youth population. It is our duty to take care of the young people in our lives. Recognize the warning signs. Sudden loss of interest in hobbies, a focus on death and dying, or feelings of hopelessness can be warning signs of suicidal ideation. School absenteeism, a drop in grades or giving away possessions can also be indicators. Look out for changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

Take the time to recognize the little things we can do every day to support each other, including simply checking in on someone with a phone call or text.

You can help prevent suicide or suicide attempts by actively intervening when a Soldier, battle buddy or loved one expresses suicidal ideation. Be alert and engaged before they are overwhelmed by life stressors and risk factors. Suicidal ideation, or suicidal thoughts, means thinking about planning suicide. Thoughts can range from a quick consideration to a detailed plan.

Army Chaplains, Unit Ministry Teams, Unit Behavioral Health Officers, and Military and Family Life Counselors are readily available and work directly with Soldiers and unit leaders in suicide prevention. In addition, community-based resources to include Army Community Service and online resources such as Military OneSource are directly accessible by Soldiers and family members.

While raising awareness on Suicide Prevention is important for our Army, it is equally as important to keep safety in mind and raise awareness on being prepared for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.

Every year, September is also National Preparedness Month.

This year’s specific campaign focuses on preparing older adults for disasters and emergencies, such as hurricanes, forest fires, and terror attacks.

We know older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the multitude of extreme weather events and emergencies, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability or live in rural areas.

Whether it’s suicide prevention or national preparedness, it is the responsibility of us all to look out for one another and provide support when we are able. We all should actively seek to connect our teammates with the necessary resources for their wellbeing. As an Army, we will continue to take care of our own.

To view AR 600-92, the new Army Suicide Prevention Regulation, please visit:


Fire / Police/ Medical Emergency: 911

SUICIDE (Prevention) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255

Suicide Crisis Lifeline: 988 Veterans Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255 Press 1

ASSAULT (Sexual) Installation SHARP Hotline: (410) 322-7154 DoD Safe Helpline: (877) 995-5247 Military Equal Opportunity and Harassment Prevention: (443) 252-5281 (24/7 hotline)

VICTIM ADVOCACY PROGRAM APG Victim Advocacy Program: (410) 652-6048 (24/7 helpline) National Domestic/Partner Violence: (800) 799-7233 | (800) 787-3224 (TTY) National Teen Dating Abuse: (866) 331-9474 | (866) 331-8453 (TTY) National Child Abuse: (800) 422-4453

NON-EMERGENCY NUMBERS FOR APG Police / Fire: (410) 306-2222/(410) 436-2222; DSN: 458-2222/584-2222 Behavioral Health: (410) 278-1715, (800) 273-8255 (The National Suicide Prevention Hotline) Employee Assistance Program: (410) 278-5319/1762 Chaplain Office: (410) 278-4333; DSN: 298-4333 Emergency/After Hours: (410) 278-3182; DSN: 298-3182