Suicide Prevention Month

Tuesday September 6, 2011

What is it?

The Army is committed to the health, safety and well-being of its Soldiers, Department of the Army (DA) civilians and families. To emphasize the commitment, the Army will extend observance of National Suicide Prevention week, Sept. 4 -10, 2011, to the entire month of September. Suicide Prevention Month will be a critical, Army-wide opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of the joint effort required to successfully eliminate suicide within our ranks, as well as encourage use of the key Army support services available to aid in this effort.

What has the Army done?

Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, has said that "Soldiers today live a lifetime in their first six years of service; [they] experience more during their first enlistment than most of their civilian peers will in a lifetime."

Army programs aim to assist Soldiers, families and Army civilians with their "lifetime" of challenges, including substance abuse, financial and relationship problems, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

While continuing to stress the importance of taking care of one's physical, mental and spiritual health, the Army is placing special emphasis on the impact first-line supervisors and junior leaders can have in driving these messages home. In August 2011, the Army produced and released the third of an ongoing series of suicide prevention videos released annually, "Shoulder to Shoulder: Finding Strength and Hope Together."

According to Mr. Walter Morales, Army Suicide Prevention program chief, "the video encourages first-line supervisors and junior leaders to intervene early in order to stop problems from escalating."

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

The Army will continue to strive to maintain a combat edge while reinforcing the garrison systems necessary to best care for Soldiers and families. Throughout Suicide Prevention Month, leaders from across the Army will be using all available avenues to illustrate stories of resilience, provide education and examples of protective factors, and convey that care is available and effective while advancing a community that supports and facilitates help-seeking behavior.

Why is this important to the Army?

Every suicide represents a tragic loss to our Army and nation. All Army family members must recognize that reducing the incidence of suicide within our Army requires a holistic approach to improving the physical, mental and spiritual health; by focusing on the resiliency and positive life-coping skills, the Army will not only lower suicide rates, but will enhance the quality of life for our entire Army community.

Resources:

Army G-1 website
Army Tri-signed letter

Related article: Army strives to build more resilient families

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Senior Leaders are Saying

"Our Army family continues to feel the stresses and strains of almost a decade of continuous operations abroad and at home ... The Army is renewing our emphasis on prevention, health and resilience ..."

View the complete 2011 Senior Leader 'Suicide Prevention Month' Message

What They're Saying

"All the pain and anguish during this workout doesn't even compare to what those we are honoring went through … They knew every time they went out on mission, there was the distinct possibility of dying and they went anyway. I'm proud we are able to honor them like this."

- Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Irvin, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Signal current operations chief, speaking of the CrossFit workout, called '31 Heroes,' done in honor of the memory of the 30 U.S. service members and one U.S. military working dog, who made the ultimate sacrifice Aug. 6, when their helicopter crashed during a mission in eastern Afghanistan .

31 heroes: Sweat, pain shared in memory of fallen warriors

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