Posted on Feb 12, 2014
SPC(P) Operating Room Specialist
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Our suicide rates are at historical highs...more Soldiers/Vets have committed suicide in the last few years than all of our fallen brothers and sisters for both OEF and OIF. It's averaging 23 a day.

We have suicide prevention training, but it's only required in my unit once a year. We are taught from Day 0 that we are to have our battle buddy's back while deployed, but what about while in garrison? I don't mean to sound disrespectful or attacking anyone with this next part but...What happened to NCO's actually living by the NCO Creed? What happened to "My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind, the accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers...I know my Soldiers and will always place their needs above my own"? I get that we're in the Army, that we're Soldiers first, and there are going to be times where we have to just embrace the suck and drive on. I don't think that applies though to making sure that Soldiers are doing ok.

This is a huge issue, and I don't believe that there is enough being done. At what point is this going to be a "big enough problem" for something more to be done?

 

Posted in these groups: PreventionPolicy PolicyB4caadf8 SuicideCf1cbe80 Troops
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Responses: 40
SSG Christopher Freeman
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I have dealt with a few Soldiers who had these thoughts. What I did was devote as much of my time as humanly possible to help them. I took them to appts, ate chow with them, and showed them how much I cared. Not as an NCO, but as a person. Don't look at it as if a Soldier has the problem. They are a person just like all of us.
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SSG V. Michelle Woods
SSG V. Michelle Woods
>1 y
Oh whether you like it or not you're getting a hug next time I see you!!!
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SSG Christopher Freeman
SSG Christopher Freeman
>1 y
To add onto that, and to use something all NCOs should know: I know my Soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. This may require you to put your life on hold to take care of them.
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SGT C Mendez
SGT C Mendez
6 y
HOOAH! SSG Freeman. Nice to see an NCO that applies the creed.
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SFC Sergeant First Class
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My answer is uncomfortable for the military, but I feel it is worthwhile as:

a) mandatory training and PowerPoint isn't reducing the total number of suicides
b) it seems so obvious and yet is never addressed

We need to stop treating Suicide as an individual problem. We enlist folks from all walks of life, every social and economic strata- so why is our suicide rate nearly double that of every other profession in the world? We have poured millions of dollars and hours into suicide prevention training, Master Resiliency Training, poster and leaflet propaganda... what do all these items have in common that is not being addressed?

The United States armed forces.

I am talking about command climate. I am talking about general officers casually ending the careers of Soldiers who have given their heart and soul for the armed forces for five or ten or fifteen years- officers who have never met the Soldier in question. I am talking about senior NCOs who no longer counsel and know their Soldiers, and who fail to express a genuine and staked interest in the emotional and social well-being of GI Joe, the Platoon Sergeants who go home at 1630 and seem inconvenienced by phone calls from their subordinates.

To avoid the perception of, "lets blame the other guy," I submit a simple test to validate my point. Pull up a diagram of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Now take every sub-bullet contained in the diagram and ask who has the most control over it: the individual troop, the E-5/O-1 level leadership, or the E-8/O-5 level of leadership? It is so stark and clear that there can be no other conclusion, and yet instead of addressing the problem we continue to give the individual "tools" to cope with the daunting amount of nonsense rolling down to the lowest level from on high.

This can be forwarded to DUI, Sexual Harassment, and every other area in which our individual Soldiers are being failed- it's time to address the fact that while we cannot pin these statistics on race, social strata, financial background, or MOS, there is a strong correlation between the frequency of these events and the perception of command climate. We don't need another program- we need better leaders who are accountable for their decisions to an independent counsel (be it civilian oversight or an office parallel to the IG).
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SGT Craig Northacker
SGT Craig Northacker
8 y
Well-put. It is a command failure down to the lowest rank - and precipitated by Congressional and White House budgetary processes. I watched the same issues after Viet Nam - Volunteer or draft - makes no difference to the NCO and his family who is getting riffed, or the junior officers, either.
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SSG Michael Scott
SSG Michael Scott
>1 y
Amen, brother!
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SPC Charles Brown
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As a soldier serving on active duty it isn't always the leaders who recognize that a soldier may be suicidal. My wife noticed I was having problems and feared that I may have been about to do something foolish. She approached my direct supervisor and unit commander about this. They both sat down with me privately and discussed what I felt needed to be done to help me get past the problem. They took my suggestions and made an appointment to see the unit Chaplain and a psychiatrist who I continued to see for 6 months until I felt that the danger had passed, after which I was informed that if I needed help in the future all I needed to do was to call and make a follow up appointment. Thank God for my wife and chain of command, otherwise I may not be here today. Leadership can be beneficial in keeping soldiers from committing suicide. But it may take someone who is closer to the individual on a daily basis to get the ball rolling.
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