JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. – Every loss U.S. forces sustain in the war on terrorism has a significant toll on their brothers and sisters in arms and families back home. The toll hits home when that life is not taken on the battlefield, but by a soldier’s own hands.
The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade’s behavioral health officer, unit ministry team and master resilience trainers joined forces to educate soldiers as part of the week-long “Stand up to Suicide” 2013 Suicide Awareness Training.
The classes focused on different resources soldiers could take to receive assistance in dealing with hard times in their life. In addition, instructors emphasized the importance of friends and leaders to notice when fellow soldiers display warning signs.
“Personal relationships are the key to recognizing those with serious issues,” said Capt. Ursula S. Riley, 16th CAB behavior health officer.
“Preventing suicide is about knowing your battle buddy because if you don’t know what’s going on with your battle buddy, you won’t know what avenues you’ll need to take to help them,” said Staff Sgt. Corey Carter, 16th CAB assistant MRT.
In a presentation of statistics that showed 2013 to compare almost identically with 2012, instructors brought up several facts and misconceptions about suicide.
“A lot of people think if a person is determined to kill himself or herself, nothing is going to stop them,” Riley said. “Another misconception is that people who are willing to commit suicide are unwilling to seek help.”
The Army ACE Suicide Intervention Training Program provides soldiers with basic suicide intervention skills. ACE stands for “Ask, Care and Escort” and directs soldiers and leaders to approach those exhibiting suicidal behavior in a straight-up approach.
“You [friends and leaders] can recognize more in 25 months than I can in 25 minutes. The key to reducing the stigmas out there is leadership,” Riley said.
“It’s very important for NCOs [noncommissioned officers] when dealing with suicide intervention because once they know their soldiers and know that something wrong is going on, they can assist in getting that person help as quick as they can,” Carter said.
The Army Master Resilience Training was established in 2008 to increase emotional resilience and enhance performance in soldiers, family members and Department of the Army civilians.
“MRT is about getting to know your soldiers a little more, finding out the problems they’ve been having and the way that they’ve been thinking. It’s to let people know that NCOs, battle buddies and friends are there for them,” Carter said.
The classes the Raptor Brigade received aimed to prepare soldiers for stresses associated with training exercises, the holidays and deployments.
“The classes teach soldiers what to look for like the little things. Never take it [suicidal behavior] lightly because you never know what they might do,” Carter said.