DVIDS – News – 21st TSC Implements New Army Suicide Prevention Initiative

Suicide among service members, veterans and their families is a public health and national security crisis, according to a Nov. 2, 2021, statement from the White House. To reduce suicide rates in its ranks, the Army implemented a “chain education” initiative based on a public health approach, designed to reach the most junior leaders of teams and squads. The strategy focuses on prevention rather than intervention and is based on comprehensive and integrated policies that address risk and protective factors.

Chain teaching is implemented in sequence, with upper echelons training lower echelon leaders in their roles and responsibilities, allowing for a more complete and shared understanding in a safe environment. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, the Army’s vice chief of staff, led the training of commanding generals, including the commander of 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Maj. Gen. James Smith, last November . In turn, Smith led the training of his commanders on February 1, 2022. Further training by 21st TSC commanders and unit leaders will be completed by the end of the month.

The initiative asks every active duty Army leader to have completed the chain education by March 1, 2022 and reserve the components to complete by September 1, 2022.

The Department of Defense reported 580 suicide deaths among active component, reserve, and National Guard members in 2020 and 202 suicide deaths among military family members in 2019.
“Suicides are devastating to families, teammates and Army readiness,” Smith said. “We are committed to understanding, identifying and providing services and support to vulnerable people.”

The subjects of the chain teacher training include:
• Deadly Means Safety
• Leader visibility tools
• Process for recognizing risk and protective factors
• Identify available support resources
• Prevention, intervention and postvention activities
• Stigma reduction methods
• The importance of building cohesive and inclusive teams

According to Lt. Col. Grant T. Thimsen, commander of the TSC’s 21st Special Troops Battalion, the top-down training and integrated approach to public health demonstrates the importance the military places on suicide prevention.

“Having a two-star commander training his subordinate commanders was a first for me,” Thimsen said. “The grimmest statistic provided during the training was that the Army’s annual report

the suicide rate now exceeds that of the general population. The army is a family. We owe it to everyone in uniform to change this dynamic and reduce suicides across the force.

He added that the new direct, leader-led training fits well with the culture of the Army.

“The military approaches almost everything it does through an operational process,” he said. “Addressing suicide prevention should be no different. Suicide prevention is a command responsibility and requires command focus for successful implementation. People are the Army’s number one priority and resource. If we don’t have staff, we can’t accomplish our mission. Every member of the military has volunteered to serve, which is why we owe it to these brave men and women to provide every resource available to help them when they need it most.

Service members who are deployed or stationed outside of the continental United States, such as those of the 21st TSC, may have different stressors and more limited access to protective factors than those stationed in the United States. United.

“Being stationed in OCONUS brings with it several unique challenges, which heighten the need for suicide prevention vigilance,” Thimsen said. “Soldiers and families who are stationed at OCONUS are geographically separated from many traditional support networks, such as family and friends, which can prove problematic when trying to build and maintain resilience.

Research shows that service members who have been in a duty station for less than a year are among those at the greatest risk of suicide.

“At STB, we make a deliberate effort through soldier and spousal sponsorship programs to quickly onboard new team members upon posting,” Thimsen said. “Educating all incoming personnel on the resources available within the organization and garrison, and encouraging social interactions are some ways to build resilience. Informing people that there are resources available is a crucial step in getting and staying in the face of any suicidal ideation or act.

The military’s shift to a suicide prevention model will help leaders establish healthy climates and a culture of connectedness, quickly identify risk factors, and increase knowledge about aid agencies and resources, according to the channel’s educational program.

“Evidence tells us that this should reduce the number of soldiers who die by suicide,” the training materials read. “This approach will also ‘raise all boats’, regardless of whether a soldier has ever been prone to suicide, will increase their personnel readiness and improve quality of life. Thanks to this, we get an increased readiness of the unit.

“The Army’s new suicide prevention strategy has a strong focus on the unit as a whole rather than just high-risk populations within our formations,” said 16th Sustainment Brigade Commander, the Col. Angel Estrada. “To get it right, commanders must devote a great deal of energy to building trust at all levels to ensure that the right dialogue, the right resources and the right care are applied to meet the challenges our soldiers face. If embraced holistically by leaders and soldiers, it will have tremendous positive effects on the culture within our barracks, the culture within our motorpools, and the culture within our units as a whole. It is an investment in our units and our soldiers, our most precious resource.

The Army’s new primary prevention approach is outlined in the new Army Suicide Prevention Program Regulations which are expected to be released in the first quarter of CY22.

Date taken: 16.02.2022
Date posted: 16.02.2022 05:43
Story ID: 414723

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