We're going the wrong way here. In spite of numerous suicide prevention programs aimed at reducing or eliminating suicides in the Army, we continue to suffer these preventable losses.
So, if programs aren't working why do you think this is happening? Leadership. Leadership at the NCO and officer level needs to better at knowing their troops. This is where we are failing. We are great at getting our troops to attend briefings and classes on how to keep a bullet from your brain, but we are failing at what will truly prevent suicides in my opinion.
Over the past 12 years of war, we have lost this art of leadership – what can be called garrison leadership. That means visiting troops where they live and knowing their hobbies. This doesn't mean forcing them to fill out a piece paper, but actually caring enough to know them that knowledge of this information comes naturally through daily conversation.
The Army released suicide data today for the month of April 2013. During April, among active-duty soldiers, there were 11 potential suicides: one has been confirmed as a suicide and 10 remain under investigation. For March 2013, the Army reported 10 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers; six have been confirmed as suicides and four are under investigation. For 2013, there have been 52 potential active-duty suicides: 22 have been confirmed as suicides and 30 remain under investigation. Updated active-duty suicide numbers for 2012: 184 (159 have been confirmed as suicides and 25 remain under investigation).
During April 2013, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 16 potential suicides (13 Army National Guard and three Army Reserve): none have been confirmed as suicides and 16 remain under investigation. For March 2013, among that same group, the Army reported 12 potential suicides; however, subsequent to the report, another case was added bringing March's total to 13 (nine Army National Guard and four Army Reserve): none have been confirmed as suicides and 13 cases remain under investigation. For 2013, there have been 57 potential not on active duty suicides (36 Army National Guard and 21 Army Reserve): 21 have been confirmed as suicides and 36 remain under investigation. Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for 2012: 140 (93 Army National Guard and 47 Army Reserve); 138 have been confirmed as suicides and two remain under investigation.
Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf.
The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.preventsuicide.army.mil.
Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20 (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).
Information about Military OneSource is located at http://www.militaryonesource.com or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental United States. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.
Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/ .
The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at [email protected] and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil.Facebook, Google Plus, & Twitter. You can also get Freedom Outpost delivered to your Amazon Kindle device here.