Fort Hood Sentinel
Standing watch over Fort Hood since 1942
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015  03:47:23 AM

Suicide Prevention Month: Engaged leaders have impact, but efforts must continue

Email   Print   Share By Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General
September 19, 2013 | Editorial
View Larger Image
For the roughly 7,000 Soldiers from Fort Hood currently deployed in Afghanistan, vigilance saves lives every day. We watch our surroundings, we watch for threats, and we watch out for each other. We protect our force with a simple phrase:


Just as this philosophy saves lives in Afghanistan, it also saves lives throughout the Army as we fight this battle against suicide.

As leaders come up through the ranks, one of the first things that we learn is that taking care of Soldiers is one of our primary responsibilities. The Army is not tanks, armored vehicles or helicopters; the Army is the people in its ranks – Soldiers, civilians, Families. No mission is possible without them. And, for a leader, there is no more heart-wrenching way to lose a Soldier than by suicide.

The Department of Defense recognizes September as Suicide Prevention Month, and this year there is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that suicide is still the No. 1 cause of death for Soldiers. The good news is that efforts by leaders at all levels, but particularly at the platoon level and below, are having a positive impact.

Suicides at Fort Hood have dropped from 19 confirmed suicides in 2012 to only five confirmed and one pending case so far in 2013. This is good news, but we still have a lot of work to do.

This year, Fort Hood Soldiers have reported more suicide attempts and ideations than they had at the same time last year. In the first nine months of 2012, there were 260 ideations and 60 attempts reported. Thus far, in 2013, Soldiers have reported 306 ideations and 75 attempts.

Although the increase in these numbers may not seem positive at first glance, it demonstrates that Soldiers are beginning to feel more comfortable asking for the help that they need and deserve. This shift in attitude is a significant accomplishment, especially for our junior leaders, who have the greatest impact on Soldiers’ day-to-day lives. However, the increase in reported attempts and ideations of suicide also demonstrates that our Soldiers continue to face significant and debilitating levels of stress. We absolutely MUST continue to enhance Soldiers’ awareness of the resources that are available to them – and even more importantly, we must continue to be engaged our Soldiers’ lives. Now is not the time to let up. Now is the time to press forward even harder on this issue. To the noncommissioned officers and junior officers who care for our Soldiers every day, you are the Army’s greatest defense against suicide. Spend time getting to know your Soldiers. Show them that they matter to you. You and your Soldiers train together; you fight together; you are a team and a family. That’s the most valuable tool you have as a leader in the struggle to prevent suicides in the Army. Use it!

To any Soldier who might be reading this: if you ever think about taking your own life, have faith in your leadership, your friends, and your Family, and tell someone. Your Family cares, your friends care, and your unit cares about you. We can and will help you.

Lastly, to every Soldier, civilian and Family member in the Fort Hood community, if you see something, do not hesitate to say something. It could save a life.

Phantom Warriors! Army Strong!
Related Articles
  • No related articles found.
Popular Editorial Articles
    Subscribe     Fort Hood Sentinel,    RSS Feeds
    Site maintained by the Temple Daily Telegram,