DVIDS – News – Suicide prevention: Reducing barriers through communication, trust at all levels

The Army implements a public health approach to suicide based on the suicide prevention efforts of the Centers for Disease Control. The new comprehensive and integrated policies emphasize prevention rather than intervention.

According to the CDC, “suicide and attempted suicide affect the health and well-being of friends, loved ones, co-workers, and the community. When people die by suicide, their surviving family and friends may experience shock, anger, guilt, symptoms of depression or anxiety, and may even have suicidal thoughts themselves.

Following the 2020 CY Annual Suicide Report, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville emphasized the need to take care of people.

“We have a special obligation to ensure that we take care of our people,” Wormuth and McConville said. “Leaders at all levels of the Army are committed to identifying approaches that support suicide prevention. Although there is no clear understanding of what is causing the increase in suicides, we realize that we need to do better to prevent suicide and ensure that resources are available and easily accessible.

Gen. Joseph M. Martin, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, led a chain education initiative in November 2021 designed to ensure consistent implementation of the Army’s suicide prevention program in full force.

“Suicide is a societal issue, and the U.S. military is not immune. Our formations include soldiers who reflect the nation they are sworn to defend,” Martin said. “As leaders , we owe it to every soldier to educate their leaders at all levels on how to recognize signs of mental health issues, where to seek appropriate resources, and the importance of ensuring individuals feel connected to others .”

Leaders who foster trust and open communication can develop more meaningful relationships that can reduce barriers to seeking help while increasing awareness and understanding of available resources. This training, along with the resources available, can help prevent suicides throughout the military.

Recently, Lt. Gen. Scott McKean, Deputy Commanding General, Army Futures Command and Director, Futures and Concepts Center, led a Suicide Prevention Chain Teach event with senior leaders from FCC and subordinate organizations.

Chain teaching is a leadership tool that involves direct teaching and a leader-directed method that allows leaders to emphasize broader, integrated concepts to ensure understanding.

“Leaders must remain focused on building cohesive teams with committed leaders who are highly skilled, disciplined and fit, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Additionally, we must provide soldiers and their families with the resources needed to build resilience and improve personal preparedness,” McKean said.

“Although the report/program focuses on our soldiers, we here at CAF are part of a unique organization, and I want us to focus not just on our soldiers, but on our civilians, contractors and members of family,” McKean added. “Everyone who is part of FCC is special in meeting the demands of our mission.”

Following the leader’s chain teaching session, McKean wants all supervisors and leaders to talk to their employees and soldiers and stressed the importance of communicating with each other and knowing your people.

This training with senior FCC leaders ensures that personnel located across the globe working on various projects in support of Army modernization efforts are trained asynchronously and interactively.

Capt. Susan Borchardt, chief, Embedded Behavioral Health, 93rd Signal Brigade, spoke about building trust. “I think the top-down approach can build trust and transparency between leaders and soldiers if it’s integrated into building a family culture with genuine care and concern without becoming bloc control.”

The Army supports a culture of trust through the Ready and Resilient strategy. This strategy is designed to enhance the personal readiness of individuals and units and foster a culture of trust. R2 provides Army Family training and resources to improve resiliency and optimize performance.

“From a behavioral health perspective, we look at suicide prevention training from a life skills perspective. When a person has purpose, they have the foundation to endure hardship,” Borchardt said.

Having a purpose in your life is essential to well-being. It’s equally important to have a sense of purpose in your role at work.

R2 reinforces Army values, beliefs, and attitudes and educates Army Team members on the importance of connecting with one another, caring for one another, and support other soldiers.

People want to be valued, and that value creates a strong and resilient individual.

According to Dr. Joseph Shrand, instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and originator of the IM approach, “Respect leads to value, and value leads to trust. People who trust feel safer than those who are afraid. You can use value to make someone less stressed, less angry, less anxious or sad, and more confident that they can stay in their protective group.

The Army Suicide Prevention Program supports the People First priority by developing and enhancing policies, training, awareness, data collection, and analysis designed to prevent suicide. The program helps build resilient and cohesive teams that foster a culture of trust and engagement. An effective prevention program relies on compassionate leadership and the development of partnerships at all levels of the Army.

“We want our soldiers to know that getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness. The Army’s goal is to make it as easy as possible for soldiers to get the help they need,” Wormuth and McConville said.

Many Fort Eustis organizations are available to assist you, including the Ready and Resilience Performance Center, Behavioral Health, Chaplains, Military and Family Life Counselors, and Army Community Services.

More resources in Fort Eustis can be found here: https://www.jble.af.mil/Resources/Resiliency-Directory/Resiliency-Eustis/#Behavioral%20Health.

Additional resources include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line, Military OneSource, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Date taken: 14.02.2022
Date posted: 15.02.2022 09:11
Story ID: 414651
Site: FORT EUSTIS, Virginia, USA

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