News: Stand Up! for suicide awareness
Story by Jennifer Andersson
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Soldiers of the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade attended an all-day training event to increase suicide awareness, reduce suicidal and high-risk behavior, and improve the health and discipline of the force.
"We will accomplish this in-part by educating the force of the warning signs, risk factors and the resources available to our Soldiers," said Maj. Edward J. Yurus, the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade's chaplain.
The Department of the Army has designated September as Army Suicide Prevention Month, and Sept. 27, the Army will conduct a suicide prevention day to focus on promoting good health, teammate involvement, risk reduction and resiliency.
"In 2011, 164 active-duty soldiers committed suicide," Yurus said.
The Army is taking great strides to prevent suicide through different types of training and workshops.
"The Army's push for awareness and prevention has helped," Yurus said. "The stigma that was once attached to a soldier seeking help has drastically been reduced. Today, soldiers are coming forward on their own and seeking care and solutions."
"Suicide prevention is first and foremost a leadership responsibility," Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta stated in a memorandum published, May 10.
He said leaders throughout the chain of command have a duty to play an active role in promoting a constructive climate, fostering cohesion and encouraging soldiers to reach out for help when needed.
"We must continue to fight to eliminate the stigma from those with post-traumatic stress and other mental-health issue," the memorandum declared.
Stress is one common reason soldiers commit suicide, Yurus said during the training. Stress can come from factors including finances, relationship, and work-related or disciplinary problems, to name a few.
A person at risk of suicide often gives off warning signals. Giving away prized possessions and finalization of personal affairs are two major indicators someone is planning suicide. More subtle signs include decrease in performance at work or school, alcohol or drug abuse, and withdrawal or depression.
Chief Warrant Officer Charles Neely, an intelligence officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 159th CAB, said a suicidal person is not thinking straight and is likely to behave differently because depression stems from chemical imbalances within the body.
The class consisted of videos and discussion on techniques to determine if someone is suicidal and what to do about it.
Breathing techniques, positive visualization and self-awareness were just some of the methods identified.
Communicating with others is the first step toward preventing suicide. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness - it is a sign of strength.
Panetta ended his memorandum saying, "As leaders of the department, ensuring the health and safety of our people is our most important responsibility. Working together, we can and will make a difference."