WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sep. 10, 2007) - In conjunction with National Suicide Prevention Week Sep. 9-15, the Army wants Soldiers and their Families to know help is available to those struggling with issues that sometimes bring about suicide.
"This year's strategy focuses on three key points - training the Army Family in positive life skills, buddy care and counseling through a variety of ways," said Army Chief of Chaplains Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas L. Carver. "I think educating our leaders, Soldiers and Families on what to look for in suicidal behaviors has made our people more sensitive and aware."
Soldiers who commit suicide usually do so because they can't see another way out of a painful situation Chaplain Carver said. Frequent and longer deployments add yet more burden, especially on relationships, he said.
"We've looked pretty closely at all the various factors involved in Soldier suicide - failed relationships, this long war," said Chaplain Carver, "yet the morale of our Soldiers is as high as it's ever been because they sense the importance of their mission down-range and they look out for one another."
Still, Soldiers in-theater need to be aware and in-tune with their fellow Soldiers, he cautioned.
"You might notice alterations in personal behavior or emotional changes in attitude that are just very different from how you know that person," he said. "If you sense something is wrong, one of the greatest things you can do with your battle buddy is say, 'Hey, how are you doing?' Begin to probe. That may open an opportunity for that Soldier to express what's going on in his life.
"As you begin to care for your buddy, you may realize he or she has issues you can't handle yourself, so the next step is to take the time to ensure they're given proper care, which is where we as chaplains come in," Chaplain Carver said. "Soldiers should physically escort troubled buddies to a chaplain who is trained in suicide prevention and takes care of the soul of our Soldiers and Family members."
If the chaplain can't help, the struggling Soldier will be provided treatment from community counseling and the medical community.
Chaplain Carver pointed out that with the operational tempo of the Army and the associated stresses it places on Soldiers and their relationships with loved ones, suicide prevention is not just a one-week effort.
"As the chief of chaplains and the senior pastor of the Army, my greatest concern is that we watch out for one another and take care of one another," Chaplain Carver said. "That's the beauty of the Army community because we're all in this together. Every Soldier and every Family member is important … everyone in the Army matters."
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