Recently in my civilian job I have seen the Army’s Suicide prevention training effort. This effort has been directed by the Secretary of the Army as a first phase of a campaign to reduce the number of suicides within the Army community.
As is my usual custom I offer some observations;
1. The training is good. For a change the training has decent production values and presents well to the audience. Although the training is centered to soldiers, the lessons translate effectively to civilians.
2. The issue of suicide prevention has always been of concern to Army Leadership. The matter of the reasons and causes of suicide are not clear to anyone…many under care of the expert’s still commit suicide reflecting our not complete understanding of the problem.
3. There are resources out there that are not performing screening, mental health service proactively to returning soldiers. In addition, soldiers that separate, retire after combat service are stuck with a dysfunctional and understaffed VA process. Those former soldiers are not counted in the statistics that are the catalyst for this effort by the Army.
Suicide prevention is being taken seriously by the Army. Now if treatment and support services by the VA could catch up.