DVIDS – News – Suicide prevention relies on detection, listening and trust

DUBUQUE, Iowa — An Army Reserve officer has helped more than 100 soldiers and veterans struggling with suicidal thoughts over the past decade by listening and providing the right resources.

Capt. Louis Goldstein, plans officer and commanding officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, with the 389th Engineer Battalion located here, uses the skills he learned working as a civilian with the project to wounded warrior for seven years, as well as Army Reserve suicide prevention training to get people with suicidal thoughts the help they need.

Goldstein explained that he served as a “responsible first point of contact” with a bag of resources to share with the soldiers. When he senses someone is in need – what he calls “Spidey sense”, he speaks with them and directs them to resources.

“You have to listen to the signals,” he said.

Goldstein earns the trust of soldiers in need “by lending them an empathetic ear. I listen, I don’t talk to them. We solve problems together, which puts them in control,” he said. “I have to work harder so that my rank doesn’t get in the way.”

Along with another soldier, Goldstein teaches the Engage course to soldiers in the battalion, what he calls “the first layer of the suicide prevention program” which talks about standard response. The course covers how to “be aware of what’s going on around you, the signs that people are giving,” he said.

As a positive effect, Goldstein saw “a slight increase after the class of questions from soldiers who are not well placed. I believe those higher numbers are a result of the confidence they feel, and people are showing up. We talk about suicide, we give soldiers the space to express themselves.

The signs that a soldier may need help are often subtle. Goldstein said some will tell him they need help, but for others he feels something is wrong. “There’s really no way of knowing. You have to be aware of a soldier’s baseline, their normal way of acting. It depends on how well you know someone. It’s a good first step,” he said.

Other soldiers may have discipline issues, such as no-shows in combat assembly or an article 15, which is more obvious.

The underlying issue that drives suicidal ideation could be a financial crisis like high credit card debt or unemployment, major changes in a relationship like divorce, death in the family, and even association with someone. one who committed suicide. According to Goldstein, these can all lead to major changes in behavior and mental health.

Soldiers are not alone because of their “vital and instrumental” support systems provided by their parents, spouses, friends and fellow soldiers. “These people are with the soldier more than I could ever be,” Goldstein said.

He described how he visited a soldier’s family and said “this is why I’m here, this is how I want to involve you. Without family involvement in caregiving, the soldier will not feel the support needed to get them where they need to be. They are just as vital as the chain of command. The family will be here for the long haul,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein acknowledges that soldiers can be embarrassed to admit they need help. “As a society, we need to overcome the stigma that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I don’t agree with that. Asking for help is a sign of strength. It shows that you trust someone who could help you and that you are confident that you can turn to someone for that help,” Goldstein said.

There are three to five resources Goldstein offers soldiers based on their specific needs, including nonprofits, community groups, veterans service organizations, and Army Reserve programs. He noted that there are many resources available and a person can feel overwhelmed at first. And if the first group of resources does not work, then it offers others, similar but different.

For his fellow soldiers, Goldstein asks that they take “the time, effort and energy to feel others. It takes time to develop. I’m still working on that.

Date taken: 30.08.2022
Date posted: 30.08.2022 16:17
Story ID: 428344
Location: DUBUQUE, Iowa, USA

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