GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — In 2012, the Army saw a record number of 350 suicides among active duty Soldiers. According to data collected by the Pentagon, this number has more than quadrupled since the Pentagon began tracking in 2001. The numbers for 2013 are slowly rising.
Suicide is an impulsive and complex consequence of mental illness and the stresses that come with serving in wartime. The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center cites multiple deployments, depression and the rise of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as potential risk factors.
The loss of any Soldier’s life is a great tragedy, regardless of cause or reason. In the case of suicide, a preventable tragedy, the aftermath for Soldiers and family members can be devastating.
While the Army is committed to providing resources for awareness, intervention, prevention and follow-up necessary to aid Soldiers and family members in overcoming difficult times through the year, September is National Suicide Prevention Month, where attention is placed on Soldier resiliency through education and awareness activities.
Suicide prevention is the term used to encompass all areas of the Army’s leadership concerns: suicide prevention awareness, suicide intervention actions, and post-intervention grief and bereavement support. It is vital to implement each one of these three areas of the program in units, on installations, and in communities to maintain a comprehensive, proactive and effective suicide prevention program within the Army.
The garrison has instituted numerous tools to address this issue, and will highlight the community’s effort to stave off suicide at the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Suicide Stand Down on Tower Barracks, Sept. 25.
The theme for this year’s stand down is “Together, We Stand Ready and Resilient.”
“The intent is for all BMC Soldiers, families and DA civilians to be aware of the resources available to them to preserve life, increase resilience and improve the health and strength of the BMC,” said Col. James Saenz, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr.
“All community members will take personal responsibility and accountability for their own comprehensive fitness, become more resilient and aware of the warning signs and become familiar with the tools and services available at their respective location to increase resilience and reduce suicides through the force.”
During the stand down, tenant units and civilian organizations, along with interested local nationals and family members, will visit numerous agencies during a terrain walk, including Army Suicide Prevention Program, Behavioral Health, Army Community Service and Army Substance Abuse, to receive informational pamphlets and educational training, as well as participate in leader-to-led discussion.
To better serve and educate the community, an information table with numerous resource materials for the entire community will be set up at the Main Exchange on Tower Barracks, Sept. 24-26. Numerous resources are also available online at the links provided above.
In addition, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG Grafenwoehr, will host a ruck march up the Netzaberg Hill, Sept. 25, starting at the Tower Barracks Physical Fitness Center at 6 a.m. The entire community is invited to join the march.
The stand down is part of a larger Ready and Resilient Campaign, which Saenz said “improves physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being.”
For more information on the stand down events, contact the Suicide Prevention/Risk Reduction Program manager at DSN 475-5147, CIV 09641-83-5147 or through e-mail at email@example.com.