Fort McCoy News Sept. 9, 2016

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

For the month of September, the Army and Department of Defense strive to help promote resources and awareness focusing on suicide prevention, especially how to help others and how to talk about suicide without increasing the risk of harm.

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people and increasingly is becoming a major issue among adults of all ages. It is often the result of mental health conditions that affect people when they are most vulnerable.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month poster

Suicidal thoughts and suicide occur too frequently but should not be considered common and can indicate more-serious issues. In many cases the people, friends, and Families affected by suicide are left in the dark, feeling shame or stigma that prevents talking openly about issues dealing with suicide.

The Army mandates annual suicide-awareness training for all Soldiers and civilian employees. The Ask, Care, Escort model is used. In addition, advanced intervention training is offered for gatekeepers; staff members with frequent interactions with those in the Army Family, especially health services providers; those who work with youth; and religious support personnel. Suicide is preventable, and training helps people recognize signs and intervene before it's too late.

Also of major importance are the services available at Fort McCoy and in surrounding communities. The Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC) program supports military personnel and their Family members. Two MFLC counselors are stationed at Fort McCoy and can see people off post if a person prefers.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) also is available to all Army civilian employees and their Families, military dependents, and Army retirees and their Families. EAP offers short-term counseling, assessment, and referral services for any personal or work-related issue. EAP is available through the Fort McCoy Army Substance Abuse Program.

Help also is available off post through local health care providers.

Prevention works. "Let's all be there for each other and strive to eliminate all suicides and suicide attempts," said Terry Rogalla, suicide prevention program manager.

In case of an emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

Fort McCoy MFLCs can be reached at 608-469-1432 or 608-345-6667. Fort McCoy EAP can be reached at 608-388-2441.

   (Article contributed by the Fort McCoy Army Substance Abuse Program.)