By 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)September 14, 2010
FORT KNOX, Ky. (Sept. 14, 2010) - The 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) has taken an active approach to preventing suicides by employing a Family life chaplain, a feat no other unit on Fort Knox can claim.
Trained to respond effectively to co-workers, colleagues, neighbors and Family members who are suffering and may be at the risk of suicide, the 3d ESC\'s Family life chaplain is an important component in the Army's promotion of September as Suicide Prevent Month.
Suicides have been on the increase for the Army since the United States' war on terrorism began. And as a result, the Army is taking more preventative measures to eliminate suicides from its ranks.
With Chaplain (Maj.) Henry J. Young, the 3d ESC's Family life chaplain, the 3d ESC is taking a major step in its suicide prevention methods.
"I've dealt with Family members who've admitted that suicide is a devastating event, whether in adult life or childhood," said Young, a Wichita, Kan. native. "Suicide leaves a lasting effect on others."
Young, who attended an intense 15-month course for training leading to a master's degree in community counseling and qualifying him in family and marriage therapy. As of now, Young is available to 3d ESC Soldiers, Civilians and Family members, but there are plans in the near future to make him available post-wide for those requiring help.
Formerly an investigator who dealt with suicides, Young said when he joined the military in 1975, superiors were more hands on with troops. He said he recalled numerous barracks and home inspections, and more face time with superiors.
With the suicides that Young said he has dealt with throughout his career, most were from a Soldier's sense of having no purpose. Although failed relationships, loss of loved ones, drugs and other causes played a big role as well, this is one he most commonly encountered when performing investigations to include in psychological autopsies.
Young said warning signs are not necessarily visible in some, but suicide can be prevented. He said that "leaders have to be more involved with their Soldiers and get up close and personal with them."
Telltale signs of suicide range from giving away personal possessions, change of demeanor and past suicide attempts. Young said that a Family history of suicide could be a sign too, as this could give someone the notion that suicide is an acceptable means of solving their problem.
"With all of the signs associated with suicide, someone is really calling for help," said Young. "With the signs, you should be able to help them, or assist them in getting the help they need."
In 2009, a total of 245 Soldiers committed suicide. As of June 2010, 145 Soldiers have killed themselves, more than half of the total number for 2009, according to the Army's safety website. In fact, June of 2010 was the Army's worst month for suicides since the Vietnam era, with 32 Soldiers killing themselves.
While the numbers are staggering, the Army is still moving forward with its suicide prevention campaign, and in the process educating Soldiers on its available resources along the way.
"In the Army, Soldiers go through many traumatizing events," said Young. "After becoming a chaplain, one thing I noticed with suicides was a community disconnect. We're just not as involved with our Soldiers like we used to be."
Overall, the Army is committed to battling suicide through its promotion of suicide prevention. Several senior Army leaders have taken a strong stance to prevent suicide and to promote suicide awareness. The Army's Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, said in a recent ABC news interview that he hoped to reduce the stigma attached to Soldiers seeking behavioral health assistance. Chiarelli said that reducing the stigma could be an important factor in suicide prevention.
As a result of the recent increase of suicides, the Army has taken an aggressive approach to combating the problem. Soldiers, civilians and Families now have various resources available to them for help if needed. Available are the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Military One Source and Army G-1, Army Well Being Liaison Office, to name a few. Also available is the new Shoulder to Should: "I will never quit on life suicide prevention video and Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.
For more information on suicide and suicide prevention, visit the Army G-1 Human Resources website at www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp.