Sheftick, Army News Service
D.C. ó An Armywide "stand- down" for
suicide-prevention training continues through March 15, and it will be
followed by chain teaching that must be completed by July 15.
centerpiece of the stand-down training is an interactive video called
"Beyond the Front" that Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter
W. Chiarelli said he spent five hours with on a recent Sunday.
a Bloggerís Roundtable Thursday on suicide prevention, Chiarelli
said the interactive video is "some of the best facilitation for
training that Iíve seen in 36 years in the Army."
said the purpose of the video is to reduce the stigma of seeking help,
to teach Soldiers to recognize the signs of suicide and how to provide
help to a battle buddy.
important for all Soldiers ó especially NCOs and junior officers ó
to be able to offer capable intervention to those at risk, Chiarelli
suicide is touching every segment of our force ó active, Reserve and
National Guard; officer and enlisted; deployed and non-deployed, and
yet-to-be-deployed," Chiarelli said.
fiscal year, 138 Soldiers committed suicide, Chiarelli said, and five
additional cases are still pending confirmation. In January, 12
Soldiers committed suicide with another 12 cases still pending. In
February, two Soldiers committed suicide and another 16 cases are
still pending confirmation.
a Soldier and a leader, Iím deeply saddened every time a Soldier
loses his or her life," Chiarelli said, "but itís
especially troubling when a Soldier commits suicide."
a third of those Soldiers were deployed, Chiarelli said. Another third
had returned from a deployment, and the last third had never been
rational person might think, the more deployments, the more likely you
are to commit suicide," Chiarelli said. "But we saw just the
explained that "a certain resiliency" seems to grow in
Soldiers that have completed multiple deployments.
announced at the roundtable that a new Suicide Prevention Task Force
has been created and will be headed by Brig. Gen. Colleen L. McGuire.
task force will look across multiple disciplines ó from personnel to
medical ó to try and discern the root causes of suicide and
synchronize solutions. Thereís no single solution to the problem,
Chiarelli said, characterizing it as "very, very
half of the Soldiers who committed suicide last year had sought
treatment from mental-healthcare providers, Chiarelli said. Yet they
still committed suicide.
5.4 percent of the suicide victims had been diagnosed with Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder, said Col. Elspeth C. Ritchie, a
psychiatrist who serves as director of Strategic Communications for
the Army Medical Department. She said 17 percent had problems with
60 percent of those who committed suicide had relationship problems,
said Col. Thomas Languirand of Army G-1. Some also had compounded
legal problems, financial problems, or work problems, the panel
March 4, Chiarelli participated in a two-hour video teleconference
with commanders across the Army whose units had been affected by
suicides. Commanders in Iraq, Korea and other locations shared
on March 4, Chiarelli spoke to more than 100 chaplains from across the
Army gathered for a suicide-prevention "summit" meeting.
Many of the chaplains came from brigade level and lower and deal with
Soldier problems on a daily basis, said Col. Dave Reese, director of
ministry initiatives for the Armyís Chief of Chaplains Office, and a
planner of the summit.
said the chaplains broke into four groups to discuss suicide
prevention across four domains: Life skills training, Intervention and
crises, Fostering hope, and Engaging grief and recovery. Eight
professionals with Lean Six Sigma black belts (in business
transformation) helped facilitate the group discussions on programs
such as the "Strong Bonds" retreat for married couples and
helped chaplains develop some new ideas.
initiatives will eventually comprise what Reese termed a renewed
"holistic approach" to suicide prevention for chaplains.