The Army Suicide Prevention Program is the Army’s comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. It focuses on 3 key areas:fostering a supportive environment, reducing stigma, and creating a culture of lethal means safety. The service is implementing a public health approach to suicide prevention that relies on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policies. The program’s regulations are scheduled to be published in the first quarter of 2022.
Suicide is a very serious issue for the Army that affects every member of the service. The Army strives to help its members and their families cope with life’s challenges. The Army has several different suicide prevention programs and initiatives that are designed to decrease the risk of suicide. It is important for everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of suicide and to know where to get help.
A person at risk for suicide may exhibit changes in their behavior, such as mood changes, hopelessness, agitation, or anger. If you notice these changes in someone you care about, you should contact them and let them know you are concerned. This will help them get the right help they need to get better.
When talking to someone in crisis, the most important thing is to be respectful and not leave them alone. You should also ask them about their thoughts and feelings, which can help you determine if they are having suicidal feelings or not.
To support this, the Army has a Suicide Prevention Training Program designed for all Soldiers and their families to increase awareness of suicide risk factors, warning signs, and available resources. It is a two-day training coordinated by the Suicide Prevention Program Manager at one-month intervals throughout the year.
As part of the Army Suicide Prevention Program, the Army has created a new resource for leaders to help them communicate with their troops about suicide. The Leaders Suicide Prevention Safe Messaging Guide provides a number of tools that can be used to make sure you can convey your message in a safe, inclusive, and supportive way.
The Army also has a program called the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) that is designed to help soldiers learn to recognize and respond to people who are having thoughts of suicide. This program is based on an international model and has been approved for army-wide distribution by the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force.
What does Army Suicide Prevention Program cover?
The Army Suicide Prevention Program aims to reduce the risk of suicide by providing support and intervention for those at high risk. This includes identifying and addressing mental health conditions, such as depression, that have been linked to suicide. It also provides training and education on the signs of suicidal behavior and how to intervene effectively.
The program focuses on creating a safe environment where soldiers can openly discuss their concerns. It also aims to eliminate the stigma that service members feel about seeking help.
It also aims to educate commanders about how to handle cases of potential suicides and the importance of getting early help-seeking assistance.
For example, a commander can request counseling services from the regional behavioral health office and arrange for a psychiatric referral to a clinical social worker at the base level if there is any doubt that a soldier may be thinking about suicide.
Another policy change the corps is testing involves changing the time that troops are released from in-patient mental health care. According to a study by clinical psychologist Craig Bryan, the first month after discharge from a hospital is the most dangerous period for suicide.
Grinston has tasked Holland with a project to test the new policy. The command sergeants major asked Holland to develop a plan that would help to reduce the number of suicides among service members by focusing on those at highest risk, such as those in in-patient facilities.
In June, the command sergeants major asked Holland to look into a policy change regarding when soldiers are released from in-patient mental health care. The new policy focuses on bringing law enforcement into the area during the first 48 hours of a soldier’s release to reach people who might be at risk of harming themselves.
The program also aims to improve military and veteran suicide response by creating a crisis line to provide information and referral to a mental health professional who can help. This line is available at 988 and can be used for a variety of reasons including suicide concerns.
Army Suicide Prevention Program features
The Army Suicide Prevention Program features training, policies, data collection, and other resources for Soldiers, Army Civilians, and Family members to prevent suicide and improve mental health. This program is part of the Ready and Resilient Campaign, which aims to develop healthy and resilient soldiers, reduce stigma, and build awareness of suicide and related behaviors.
The ACE Program (Ask, Care, and Escort) is a three-hour suicide intervention skills training that teaches soldiers how to recognize a suicidal person and intervene with them. It also helps service members become more aware of their feelings and the actions they should take when a friend or loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts. The training encourages soldiers to ask their battle buddies whether they’re feeling suicidal, care for them and escort them to the appropriate resource if they need help.
Another feature of the program is a Suicide Incident Reporting System that requires remote OCONUS installations to collect suicide incident data and report the number of confirmed suicides and suicide attempts for the year. This information can help commanders make data-driven, justifiable decisions in response to a suicide death or attempt.
There are also programs that help service members and their families cope with stressors such as financial issues. Military OneSource offers free, confidential counseling and guidance to service members and their families. In addition, USO Warrior Centers provide support to wounded and ill service members recovering at nearby medical facilities.
While military personnel and their families face a variety of stressors, including traumatic injuries, the risk of suicide is higher among those who are deployed, often to a combat zone. That’s why the USO provides special programming in line with CDC’s suicide-prevention strategies to support those facing life-threatening situations.
This program also includes a social norms campaign that aims to normalize help-seeking and decrease the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. The program is being implemented by multiple states across the country.
This initiative is based on CDC’s Comprehensive Suicide Prevention model. This model encourages states to identify high-risk populations for suicide and implement interventions, such as gatekeeper trainings for Veterans and peer support leaders. Moreover, the program uses mobile apps to help Veterans and community members access wellness tools and resources and seek and offer peer support when they need it. In addition, the app includes a crisis hotline and Ambassadors who can provide additional support.
Army Suicide Prevention Program responsibilities
The Army Suicide Prevention Program supports the People First priority by ensuring that all Soldiers, Family members, and Army civilians are able to effectively cope with life stressors and maintain resilience. This is achieved through policies, training, awareness, and data collection designed to prevent suicides.
The National Guard is an essential component of the Army’s resilience effort and has made a significant commitment to the implementation of policies, procedures, and programs focused on reducing the risk of suicide. This includes providing adequate unit-level training to ensure resources and intervention measures are in place. The Department of Defense has also developed guidelines for commanders on the use of mental health services and guidance on encouraging help-seeking behavior.
This is accomplished through a combination of leadership involvement, professional military education, unit-based prevention services, and community-based support. These efforts increase access, encourage help-seeking and promote familiarity, rapport, and trust with the force and families.
Junior leaders and first-line supervisors of Soldiers must be trained to recognize signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation and behaviors that suggest a possible suicide attempt. This is done through the Ask, Care, Escort (ACE) training program. The ACE curriculum teaches participants to recognize and intervene with someone who appears to be in a suicide state, whether or not they believe the individual is at risk for death.
These individuals must have the ability to ask a fellow Soldier whether they are suicidal, provide help and escort them to the source of professional assistance. The ACE curriculum can be used by junior leaders, first-line supervisors, and Family Readiness Group Leaders.
Additionally, every Company, Battalion, and Brigade echelon has a Suicide Intervention Officer (SIO) who is selected, on orders, to be the unit’s suicide subject matter expert. The SIO is responsible for coordinating yearly training, documentation of attempts and completions, and forwarding this information to the SCNG Suicide Prevention Program Manager.
These officers are charged with promoting September “Suicide Awareness Month” and building a resource network in their echelon specific to the suicide issue. They must coordinate a formal review of all completed training, attempts, and completions per reference (g). These officers must also submit quarterly statistical updates for training and actionable intelligence purposes.