News: Training, awareness help 'Dragon' brigade Soldiers defend against suicide
Story by Spc. Shantelle Campbell
TIKRIT, Iraq – A global study conducted by the World Health Organization estimates that one million people die each year from suicide.
Unfortunately, Soldiers are not immune from the stresses that lead some to commit suicide.
According to the 2009 U.S. Army Posture to help Soldiers cope with difficulties and prevent suicide, the Army has begun a five-year, $50 million study with the National Institute for Mental Health. The goal of this study is to assess the causes of suicide and identify mitigation techniques.
The Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, a program from the Living Works organization, is one of the Army's suicide mitigation strategies.
Recently, 45 Soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan., completed a two-day ASIST workshop where they learned suicide intervention and prevention skills.
"For a long time now, we've taught courses on suicide prevention and awareness, but we've never given people tools … to move [a person who is suicidal] to what we call the intervention process and move them from the danger zone to safety," said Maj. Mark Moss, the brigade chaplain.
During the two-day workshop, Soldiers in the "Ranger"battalion learned the dangers of suicide and analyzed statistics and suicide risk-factors. The training also gave Soldiers the opportunity to express their own views and beliefs on the topic.
"I've benefited from this training by inheriting skills that could help with daily life as well as in the Army," said Spc. Uriah Pagayonan, a Hanford, Calif., native.
More ASIST workshops are planned for the "Dragon" brigade. According to Moss, 45 Soldiers from each of the six battalions in the brigade will be ASIST-certified by the end of the deployment.
"It's vital that Soldiers are prepared to help other Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Roosevelt Moore of Minden, La., the brigade chaplain assistant. "With them being able to [come] to this training and receive these tools, they can take it back to their units, help other Soldiers and prevent them from making a permanent life mistake."