Suicide prevention is everyone's concern
Suicide isn't just one person's concern -- it's everyone's, and it takes a strong, resilient community to support those dealing with suicide to receive the help they need.
Bringing this important topic to the forefront is what September's Suicide Prevention Month is all about, said Yancy Chandler, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Suicide Prevention Program and Army Substance Abuse Program manager.
"The goal of this month-long observance is to educate community members in effective strategies to reduce the risk of suicide in our community," he said. "When people frequently hear open and honest discussions about suicide and learn about the available resources, it may reduce the stigma of reaching out for help."
Mental health disorders are often blamed when a suicide incident occurs, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition. In fact, other issues that may contribute to suicide include relationship problems, substance use, physical health and job, money, legal or housing stress.
"Suicide is a serious community health problem," Chandler said. "We have to see how we can support those in crisis through education, support and connecting with those who need help."
To strengthen the community with knowledge ASAP offers education and training opportunities for all members of the Kaiserslautern Military Community to care for those in crisis.
USAG RP and 86th Airlift Wing Suicide Prevention offices will provide a suicide awareness information booth from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 19, at the food court in the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center on Ramstein Air Base.
The garrison Suicide Prevention office will also host safeTALK suicide prevention training from noon to 4 p.m., Sept. 24 and 26-28 in the second-floor conference room in Bldg. 2886-C on Pulaski Barracks.
To provide another layer of defense against suicide, Chandler initiated Suicide First-Aid Stations in November 2017 to provide assistance to community members demonstrating suicidal ideations. The program trains gatekeepers in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and places signage outside of their work locations, barracks or on-base residence so people in need of assistance can find help immediately.
"This program supports connecting those in need to available community resources to ensure safety and well-being," Chandler said. Currently, there are 53 Suicide First-Aid Stations within the USAG RP community.
ASAP also offers a tool for unit commanders called a Unit Risk Inventory. URIs can be used to identify high-risk behaviors like substance use or abuse, suicidal behaviors, child and spouse abuse, unit cohesion and financial problems.
Soldiers complete a 53-question, anonymous ASAP survey that takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete, Chandler said.
"Once the surveys are completed, they are screened for any suicide indications on the same day they are filled out. If indicators are found, the information is reported to commanders immediately," he explained. "Commanders also receive a customized prevention plan with all of the mitigations and points of contact listed."
No one should have to deal with suicide alone. Through caring involvement, education and support, communities can prevent the future risk of suicide and save lives.
For more information about suicide prevention or to sign up for training, call Chandler at DSN 493-4901 or commercial at 0631-3406-4901 or visit the ASAP Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RheinlandPfalzASAP.