Goodmorning. My name is SSG Findley. I am one of the unit suicide intervention specialists, and this block of instruction is on suicide prevention and awareness.
The terminal learning objectives are listed as follows (Read slide).
Bottom line up front, Soldiers are committing suicide and we must find a solution to decrease the number of suicides. For the next half hour, we will collectively look at preventing Soldiers from attempting suicide. In the past, suicide prevention briefings have included several slides on demographics. This presentation only has one such slide, has only two main points, a few vignettes for discussion, and then concludes with a list of resources for you to contact. Key point here is that Soldiers are killing themselves and one suicide is too many! Talking PointsGeneral: Soldiers are killing themselves and one suicide is too many! Spiritual: Emphasize the importance of spiritual health, connectivity with a faith community, and a relationship with God. Behavioral Health: Focus on coping mechanisms that exist within the Army and ask Soldiers to think about their own personal coping mechanisms. Help Soldiers identify ways that they have coped with difficulties in the past (e.g., social support from buddies/family/friends, counseling, writing a letter, talking to a friend, etc.) and ways that they might cope in the future.
Take a moment and consider what this statement means.I might add this statement not only means having the courage to seek help, but having the courage to ask your buddy if he or she needs help.All of us have seen the advertisements that the VA has put out and this statement seeks to change the organizational culture we find ourselves in.
What is the organizational culture of the Army? Whether we think about it or not, part of our culture is acting as a barrier to helping our buddies- that of “being able to handle one’s feelings”, or “asking for help is a sign of weakness”, or “asking for help means I’ll let my buddies down”, or “asking for help means everyone will think I am trying to get out facing danger and I’ll lose face”.Why do soldiers feel that way? Do those feelings matter if the soldier commits suicide?Addressing this topic is an effort to change that culture of thinking. Unfortunately, suicide is not just a problem in the military, it is a problem in the civilian world as well.
The reason why I am addressing suicide in general is for you to realize that this is not a problem confined to just the military. The great majority of you have civilian lives, and this problem affects those around you, as evidenced on this slide.One of the things that jumps out is that 30,000 Americans a year die as a result of suicide. 30,000 deaths that could have been prevented. When one considers the next statistic- that over 8.4 Million people in the United States each year contemplate suicide, the scope and magnitude of the problem become even more evident.
Suicides and suicide attempts can be costly as well.
The Warrior Ethos statement “I will never leave a fallen comrade” refers to helping a buddy in mental distress also. A very large number of suicides could have been prevented by an attentive buddy. Helping a buddy takes courage and accepting help is a sign of strength. Talking PointsGeneral: A very large number of the completed suicides in the Army could have been prevented by a caring buddy.Spiritual: Soldiers need to take care of each other and rid any thoughts of survival of the fittest. Almost all religions adhere to some form of Christianity’s Golden Rule, or the Categorical Imperative of Immanuel Kant. TheGolden Rule basically states that we should treat others as we would want to be treated. Its universality is demonstrated by the following table:Universality of the Golden RuleChristianity “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”Confucianism “Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state”Buddhism “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful”Hinduism “This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you”Islam “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself”Judaism “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary”Taoism “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss”Behavioral Health: Ask Soldiers to think about times when they have helped a buddy and when they have been helped by a buddy. Emphasize that helping a buddy takes courage and that accepting help is a sign of strength and indicates a desire to feel better.
Let’s review each of these briefly.Can anyone think of other warning signs not covered here?What do you do if you see these signs?
This is not a difficult mission but it is most important. Key points are to confront your buddy, keep your buddy safe, and to take your buddy to the nearest available resource. Never leave the individual alone and do not be afraid to directly confront the Soldier with questions such as: Are you going to hurt yourself, Are you thinking about suicide, etc. As long as you demonstrate true concern for their wellbeing, you cannot say the wrong thing. Doing nothing is not an option.Talking PointsGeneral: Emphasize that it is okay to ask the question and to never leave the person alone as help is sought. Spiritual: Chaplain should emphasize the UMT’s availability immediately after this presentation and all other times. Behavioral Health: Encourage Soldiers to become acquainted with their Behavioral Health professionals and inform Soldiers how to access care.
These resources are available to you, both if you are having thoughts of suicide or you suspect your buddy has those thoughts based on the warning signs we have discussed.
The chain of command, from the commander down to your team leader, want to help you if you are experiencing difficulty or having problems. Let us know what we can do to help you.Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Suicide Prevention and Awareness<br />SSG Rick Findley<br />3rd Platoon<br />792nd ChemicalCompany<br />
Terminal Learning Objectives<br />To understand the Army’s policy on suicide.<br />To understand the organizational culture contributing to this problem.<br />To understand the overall magnitude of the problem.<br />To understand the warning signs of suicide.<br />To effectively intervene in dealing with someone having suicidal thoughts.<br />To know about available resources for suicide intervention.<br />
Administrative Considerations<br />Risk Assessment for this class is low. Be sure to watch for any tripping hazards.<br />Safety. Everyone is a safety officer. If you see an unsafe act, call a halt to the proceedings until it is resolved.<br />If you feel tired, stand up and move either to the side or to the back of the room.<br />If you notice your buddy nodding off, wake them.<br />
Demographics<br />“One suicide is one too many!”<br />"Not all wounds are visible. If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, seek help. We need you on the Army team."<br />SMA Kenneth O. Preston <br />
IT TAKES THE COURAGE OF A WARRIOR TO SEEK HELP<br />
What is organizational culture?<br />It is defined as “a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations”.<br />Why is this important? <br />There is a prevalent attitude among members of the military that “they can handle their feelings” or “that to ask for help is a sign of weakness”.<br />It is the inability or unwillingness to ask for help or ask if our buddies need help that leave our fellow soldiers vulnerable.<br />
Suicide is not just a problem in the military<br />Major public health concern that affects businesses, families and communities.<br />30,000 deaths and 750,000 suicide attempts and self-injuries annually.<br />4% of American Adult (8.4 million individuals) have contemplated suicide.<br />One in 14 employees suffer from depression at any one time, representing more than 200 million lost workdays lost each year with an annual cost of $44 billion nationally.<br />Most individuals never seek counseling first.<br />
Economic Impact<br />Annual cost of workforce-related suicides in calculated at approximately $11.8 billion in 1998 dollars (Institute of Medicine)<br />CDC reports that suicide attempts result in up to 700,000 emergency room visits each year<br />Long-term costs of treating non-fatal suicide attempts, including lifelong disability, are unknown<br />Nearly 2/3 of all suicide occur among the nation’s workforce.<br />
If Your Buddy is in Pain Help Your Buddy!<br />You are a Warrior and a member of a team<br />You will never leave a fallen comrade<br />
Warning Signs<br />Economic hardship- Loss of job.<br />Death of a close friend, spouse or family member.<br />Loss of relationship.<br />Feelings of hopelessness- “It is not going to get better.”<br />Giving away personal items .<br />Withdrawal from friends and activities.<br />Verbalizing “having had enough”, or “I want to end this”.<br />Changes in behavior.<br />Multiple deployments.<br />Witnessing traumatic events.<br />Loss of status; current disciplinary action.<br />Suicidal ideation or attempt.<br />
INTERVENTION<br />Ask your Buddy<br />Have the courage to ask the question, but stay calm<br />Ask the question directly, e.g. Are you thinking of killing yourself?<br />Care for your Buddy<br />Remove any means that could be used for self-injury<br />Calmly control the situation; do not use force<br />Escort your Buddy<br />Never leave your buddy alone<br />Escort to the chain of command, a Chaplain, a behavioral health professional, or a primary care provider<br />DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION!<br />
Resources<br />Chain of Command <br />Unit Chaplain (CPT. Forshee) <br />Mental Health Clinic/Local Crisis Line <br />Emergency Room <br />National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8355) Press “1” for Veterans.<br />www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org<br />www.militaryonesource.com 1-800-342-9647 <br />http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide.asp<br />
Remember, you are not alone, and you do not have to go through your situation alone.<br />Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.<br />