News: September is Army Suicide Prevention Month
Story by Sgt. Christopher Klutts
BAUMHOLDER, Germany – September is Army Suicide Prevention Month and the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team has many Army-wide programs in place to raise awareness about the issue and get help to Soldiers and Family members struggling with severe depression.
“The hardest thing for a Soldier to do, when they are emotionally hurting, is to ask for help,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Daniel S. Dunn, the 170th IBCT brigade chaplain. “It’s not a matter of just suck it up, we have tools to communicate and try to understand where the Soldier is at.”
A unit’s suicide prevention program is the commander’s responsibility. Through different mediums of education, commanders are trying to battle the stigma that is sometimes attached to Soldiers seeking help, said Dunn.
“An overwhelming emphasis has been placed, and a reeducation of leadership undergone, on the fact that suicide or depressive ideology isn’t just somebody being weak,” said Dunn.
Although the suicide prevention program is the unit commander’s responsibility, the Soldier will have more contact with a buddy or direct supervisor when suffering from severe depression. That’s why various training is conducted at all levels of leadership, said Dunn.
“Commanders are becoming in-tune with empowering their junior non-commissioned officers to be the first line of defense. When they have sincere intent, the Soldiers they are responsible for know that, it opens a lot of doors,” said Dunn.
One of the programs the Army is using to reach junior leaders is ASIST, or applied suicide intervention skills training.
Sfc. Pawoo T. Teh, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 170th IBCT brigade aviation element, and the primary brigade suicide intervention trainer, attended the ASIST course in August. He said his goal is to train junior leaders to notice suicidal behavior in their buddies and act to help them.
“They have to genuinely care about the person,” said Teh. “For the course, I am asking for volunteers so we have people that want to learn how to help their buddies.”
Soldiers interested in attending the class, scheduled for November, should contact Teh at DSN 485-8391.
Soldiers that are, or know someone who is, struggling with depression should talk to their chain of command, chaplain or behavioral health professional.