GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The Defense Department is rolling out a new campaign theme to recognize a major public health concern in our community and many military communities around the globe.
“The DOD’s theme for Suicide Prevention Month this year is ‘#BeThere.’ This campaign encourages us to view our interactions with others as meaningful regardless of how short or long that interaction may be, especially if we recognize that someone may be struggling. So don’t forget to #BeThere for each other, not just during Suicide Awareness Month, but every day,” said Cheryl Davis-Hart, employee assistance provider, Army Substance Abuse Program, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria.
Each September, the Armed Forces recognizes National Suicide Prevention Month.
Suicide is a primary focus here in USAG Bavaria. There are professionals to listen, counsel and aid with addressing suicidal ideations.
“Suicide is a major concern with veterans and active duty military members. It’s especially alarming when viewing the suicide rates of active duty Army members. According to a research report in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, the Army suicide rate increased 80 percent from 2004 to 2008,” said Hart.
USAG Bavaria has also furthered their proactive role in preventing suicide. The Army Substance Abuse Program has put out the word to let people know what they can do to support our Soldiers, Veterans and their families going through a difficult time.
The garrison is stepping up to reduce suicide by adopting a public health perspective. The professionals here are focused on training the community members as gatekeepers to identify and refer those at risk.
The emphasis is on creating, assessing and disseminating programs that have a comprehensive impact for the community at large.
“According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 15th leading cause of death globally. Over 800,000 people die by suicide each year. Depression is the leading mental health disorder for people who die by suicide, and for every one suicide, 25 people make an attempt,” said Hart.
A disproportionate number of fatalities account for suicidal deaths across the country and throughout military communities.
“According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, each day there are around 20 veterans who commit suicide. What’s more, they report that veterans’ suicides account for 18 percent of the suicide deaths in the country, while they only make up 8.5 percent of the adult population,” said Hart.
While current service members are not exempt from these feelings of anxiety, Hart said, “Transitioning service members and veterans can now receive up to a year of mental health care from the Veterans Affairs Department after discharge from the service, according to an executive order President Donald J. Trump signed in January of 2018.”
USAG Bavaria works to assist transitioning service members from the perspective of how to best support uniformed service to civilian life.
“According to the Defense Suicide Prevention office, the order directs the Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security departments to develop a joint action plan to ensure the 60 percent of new veterans who now do not qualify for enrollment in health care … will receive treatment and access to services for mental health care for one year following their separation from service,” said Hart.
Resiliency training is also a tool available to service members and their families. Although it is a tool always available, it will be highlighted during the month of September.
“The Army’s Ready and Resilient efforts leverage the month of September as an opportunity to increase the focus on suicide prevention and awareness. However, as a community, we should not forget that we need to talk about suicide and continue to improve our primary prevention and intervention skills throughout the entire year, not just during September or following a suicide within our unit, agency or community,” said Hart.
USAG Bavaria has invested in professionals who advocate for systems of care that effectively identify, target and treat Soldiers, civilians and their families.
Visit ASAP in Tower Barracks Bldg. 555 to learn of other resources that are available to support those who are coping with mental health challenges or are at risk for suicide, and they encourage everyone to share these resources.
So let’s all #BeThere: Be there for your buddy, to support someone in crisis, for your family and for yourself.
For more information, visit the Military Crisis Line website or contact the Military Crisis Line at 001 800-273-8255, then press 1.