By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 16, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 16, 2012) -- Fort Rucker aims to celebrate life during Suicide Prevention Month in September with actives to help Soldiers and families beat depression.
The Army wants to combine the mission to stay healthy and be alert with getting the help that Soldiers need, said Army Substance Abuse Program risk reduction program coordinator Denise Clarke.
"We at Fort Rucker have decided to focus on celebrating life. We want Soldiers and family members to participate in things to put value on their life as a way of addressing suicide prevention. The overall theme for the Army is 'A healthy force is a ready force,'" said Clarke.
The events include a golf tournament, a bowling tournament and a concert, Clark said.
"All of our events go with our theme to get out there and take advantage of life. Picerne Housing, the Family advocacy program, religious services office, behavioral medicine and Army Community Service have been fabulous partners to help us put on these events. We are grateful they are helping with the campaign," Clarke said.
The campaign's kickoff event is the "Swing Fore Life" Golf Tournament, Sept. 7, 2012, at the Silver Wings Golf Course and is open to the public.
"Teams of four players will play in a scramble. What's special for us is all the players will be using the yellow balls to show their support (yellow ribbons represent both suicide awareness and Soldier support). Registration and breakfast will be 7-8:15 a.m. and tee time is 8:30 a.m. The cost is $55 per player and the fee includes green fees, practice balls, a cart, a mulligan, the "Grab & Go" breakfast, lunch and a pass for a free round of golf," said Clarke.
The bowling tournament is for units and directorates of Fort Rucker only.
The Strike Out Suicide Bowling Tournament will be Sept., 6, 13, and 20 at Rucker Lanes. Teams of four must choose a day to bowl. The luncheon will be held Sept. 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The last major event celebrating Suicide Prevention Month features the 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band.
"The Music Under the Alabama Stars event will be Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Howze Field. People should bring lawn chairs and set up a picnic to celebrate life with their friends while they listen to the band. We will have promotional items and will have luminaries placed out to depicting the 2012 suicide stats."
With the average of almost one suicide a day, 190 Soldiers have committed suicide in 2012 according to the Army.
"One loss of life to suicide is one too many. We do have a problem," said Clarke.
If someone thinks they are suffering from symptoms of depression there are many avenues they can take to get on the road to healthy living, according to Clarke.
"There is the behavioral medicine at Lyster, the national suicide lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255, Army Community Service has military life consultants that a Soldier can open up to and there are also pastors and chaplains. If you have symptoms of depression then seek professional help, don't go on in silence thinking you are alone, because you're not," she said.
"Just talking about it can help alleviate some symptoms of depression. Whether it is relationship, career, life altering or financial problems that make a person feel overwhelmed and hopeless, seeking help is the first step to being a healthy person again," said Clarke.
Clarke also emphasized the importance of getting outside.
"It may seem silly, but get up and get out. Go somewhere new and you might have an amazing experience that might change your whole outlook on life. Something as simple as the rising sun or a bird can give someone hope," said Clarke.
Suicide prevention for the Army also means being a good battle buddy or neighbor.
"If you think one of your friends or coworkers is overwhelmed, follow these three steps: ask your buddy, care for your buddy and escort your buddy. These steps help prevent suicide because it not only shows that you care, but you can protect them from themselves, if need be. Just be blunt with your buddy, don't be afraid to get involved," said Clarke.
Department of Defense statistics show that suicides are the second most common cause of death for Soldiers, and Clarke wants Soldiers to focus on not being a statistic by going out and enjoy being alive.
"Celebrate your life, because you're only given one," she said.