We are all ‘Battle Buddies’ in fight against suicide

A dark thing happens when situations or relationships begin to spin out of control. A feeling of hopelessness or despair may set in. No matter how hard you may try to shake it, the gloom darkens and turns what used to be joy for life into unbearable pain.

“I just can’t take this anymore. I just want the pain to end,” some Soldiers have been heard to say.

Those statements could be a warning sign that they are considering suicide. Personality changes, high risk behavior, irritability, anger and depression can also be warning signs.

“Don’t take them lightly. Treat them seriously, even if you think they are off-the-cuff passing remarks or behavior,” said Dr. Maria Crane, a clinical psychologist with the Europe Regional Medical Command Soldier and Family Support Services.
The Army is training Soldiers, leaders, Department of the Army civilians and family members to “Act,” “Care,” and “Escort.” The ACE Suicide Prevention Program asks everyone to get to know Soldiers on a personal level and, if necessary, escort them to someone who can help them, such as a behavioral health provider, chaplain or social worker.

To teach first-line supervisors to recognize suicide warning signs, trainers from U.S. Army Europe G1 and the Installation Management Command Europe Substance Abuse Program are hosting Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.

“The Army’s goal is to have two ASIST-trained facilitators at each garrison, major subordinate command and Army Reserve Command before Dec. 31,” said USAREUR G-1 Wellbeing and Quality of Life Program Manager Dr. Betty Summerlin. “Once trained, those master trainers will then conduct three two-day workshops.”

Summerlin said squad leaders, platoon sergeants, platoon leaders and other first-line supervisors are the target audience for the training, as well as Family Readiness Groups.

Sonja Brown-Lathan, FRG assistant program manager for U.S. Army Europe, said, “It is important to be prepared and trained to respond effectively to many types of situations.”

She said properly trained family readiness support assistants and FRG volunteers can play a significant role in identifying and referring Soldiers and family members in crisis to the appropriate professionals.

Chaplains and Army Community Service provide training to family readiness support assistants.

Deputy IMCOM-Europe Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Avi S. Weiss said military community and unit chaplains will conduct suicide prevention training throughout September and also address Soldier and family resilience during chapel services.

Vice Chief of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli said that the Army is working very, very hard to eliminate the stigma long associated with seeking and receiving help.
“This is a matter of life and death, and it is absolutely unacceptable to have individuals suffering in silence because they’re afraid their peers or supervisors will make fun of them, or worse, it will adversely affect their careers,” Chiarelli said.
A new video, called “Shoulder to Shoulder: I Will Never Quit on Life,” features vignettes and testimonials of real Soldiers who received help for psychological distress or who assisted an individual in need. The video illustrates how people can work together to keep each other, and the Army, mentally fit.

The video and other suicide prevention resources are available at the Army G1 Suicide Prevention Web page at www.armyg1/hr/suicide.