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September 14, 2012

News

Armywide suicide-prevention stand down ordered for Sept. 27

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Army News Service) — Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III ordered an Armywide suicide “stand down,” Sept. 27, as a way to empower leadership to prevent further loss of life due to suicide.

The stand down is meant to familiarize all members of the Army Family with the health promotion, risk reduction, suicide prevention, and comprehensive Soldier and Family fitness resources available in the Army.

The stand down also will focus on how to improve the health and discipline of the force and reducing the stigma associated with seeking care for behavioral-health issues.

Resiliency, available resources focus of McCoy event

A luncheon to promote resiliency will be held Sept. 27 at McCoy’s, building 1571. The theme for the luncheon is “Shoulder to Shoulder, We Stand Up for Life.”

The pay-as-you-go luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by presentations from Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott, Garrison Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Allen Raub, Suicide Prevention Program Manager Scott Zaehler, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Army Community Service Director Becky Sawyer.
 
The intent of the luncheon is to enhance awareness of resources available to Soldiers, civilians and Family members and increase resilience.

Members of the entire Fort McCoy community are welcome to attend.

The stand down was issued after Austin visited installations around the Army and listened to Soldier feedback and suggestions, said Walter O. Morales, chief of the Army Suicide Prevention Program.

“He realized more work was needed to address the issue of suicides in the Army and to ensure the awareness and training momentum continues,” Morales said.

The last Armywide suicide-prevention stand down took place in 2009. During that event, Morales said, the Army used the “chain teach” approach to push information down to Soldiers.

“For example, the Army required that specific training materials would be used and specific training requirements met, although some supplemental training was allowed, such as leader-led discussions,” he said.

This time, Morales said, the stand down will be different.

“Activities and training will be less prescriptive,” he said. “Commanders now have the flexibility to assess the needs of their units and customize the training and activities.”

Although the stand down is just for one day, Morales said training and activities will be conducted throughout September, which is recognized in the Army as Suicide Prevention Month.

Efforts likely will continue into October, particularly for the reserve component.

“We have so many good programs out there, but people often get lost in the shuffle — they know there’s help available, but it’s sometimes difficult finding out how to access it and find the appropriate points of contact,” Morales said.

The theme this year for suicide prevention month —“A Healthy Force is a Ready Force”—reflects the Army’s awareness that healthy people and mission go together, Morales said.

“We’re not just worried about suicides; we’re concerned with the overall fitness and well-being of our Soldiers, Army civilians, and Family members,” he said. “It is especially important that leaders lead the charge in changing the Army culture, wherever seeking help for suicide or other issues is stigmatized.”

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