SEMBACH, Germany -- Soldiers assigned to 21st Theater Sustainment Command participate in a play produced by the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Army Substance Abuse Program "Second Chance," that brings an emotional battle to life, as a Soldier endures struggles with suicide. Multiple performances of the play took place on September 6, at the Sembach Tiger Theater as a part of the Army's Substance Abuse Program annual training.
September is Suicide Prevention month, the universal themes and realistic approach of “Second Chance” allows it to take place at any U.S. military installation worldwide while supporting the Army's initiatives of raising awareness and promoting resources to prevent death by suicide.
The story begins with Spc. Jones, played by Mr. Clayton Harrison, adolescent support and counseling services, receiving the good news that he passed the promotion board and is on the path to becoming a sergeant. He plans to celebrate the exciting news with his wife, played by Tech. Sgt. Marquita Allen, United States Air Force Europe - Air Force Africa. Instead, he goes out drinking with some friends, a decision that leads him to an unfortunate series of events.
The dynamic cast takes the audience down the dark, realistic path any Soldier or civilian can go down when everything seems to go wrong in his or her life. Jones battles a drinking problem, marriage issues, a run-in with the law, and must deal with the consequences. The production ultimately leads to the Soldier receiving a second chance in life.
The play allows the audience to witness the struggles of the Soldier from multiple perspectives, from his battalion commander to his fellow Soldiers and his wife.
According to the writer of the play, Russell Jordan, from the USAG-RP ASAP, the characters' scenarios and overlooking warning signs happen all the time.
"Sometimes, we see things with our eyes, but we have to be able to see invisible things clearly. We have to be able to see with our hearts," said Jordan. "When we see those kinds of things, we have to ask the question that takes courage to ask, because when we ask what if the answer is, 'yes.' It takes courage to ask 'are you thinking about killing yourself.'"
If someone were to say yes, they want to kill themselves, Jordan urges people to show that individual you care by listening. It is imperative to know suicide prevention resources and be aware of the people you work with to recognize the warning signs. For many years, the Army has shared the suicide prevention acronym ACE, which stands for Ask, Care, and Escort.
The acronym reminds people that when faced with this situation, you need to ask the question, take care of the person, do not leave them alone, and then escort them to someone that can provide professional help.
"Don't prejudge, don't look at your clock, don't come back with something to say before they even finish," said Jordan. "You are listening for reasons that they want to die, and they are telling you that - we have seen it. But we also have to listen to the reasons why they want to live."
As part of these efforts, the community is invited to attend four powerful suicide prevention plays entitled "Second Chance." The play is being offered at multiple times and locations to ensure maximum participation:
• September 15 at the Heaton Auditorium, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center – 1:30 p.m.
• September 25 and 27 at the Baumholder Wagon Wheel Theater – 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact your chain of command, a chaplain, or call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.