Recently, Sec. Def. Lloyd Austin directed the establishment of a Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee to address and prevent suicide in the military. The SPRIRC will conduct a comprehensive review of the Department’s efforts to address and prevent suicide. The result of this review will be a report to the SecDef and to Congress detailing actionable improvements to policies, programs, processes, and resources to prevent these tragedies in our military.
The review will require visits to specific military installations, focus groups, individual interviews, and a confidential survey of Service members at designated locations. The SPRIRC will examine relevant suicide prevention and response activities, as well as actions underway to address recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, to ensure recommendations are synchronized with current prevention activities and capabilities.
In the meantime, what can be done to assist with prevention efforts and assist those who need help now? There are myriad resources available when Army personnel are in need.
First, get to know those who work around you daily. I am not suggesting to force a relationship with everyone, however getting to know some information about your battle buddy can help in more ways than one. Getting to know your battle buddy creates a bond which is needed to accomplish any mission. The rapport built through these interactions can make it a bit easier to ask personal questions--such as whether something has changed in their life--when you notice a shift in their mood or behavior. Oftentimes, we read that victims of suicide were not comfortable enough to open up to those around them based on various reasons.
Secondly, a variety of resources are available. The Army has Ready & Resilient (R2) Resource Centers that are often centrally located and host all types of suicide prevention and resilience training programs. In addition, Soldiers are provided a list of numbers to contact in case of emergency, when arriving to a new duty station. Some of the numbers provide information for Chaplains, counselors, and people within the unit who can assist if you don’t feel comfortable sharing information with a battle buddy. The Community Resource Guide provides first responder contact information for all Army installations worldwide: Community Resource Guide
Lastly, the Army Resilience Directorate website provides links to resources for Commanders, Soldiers, Family and friends. Our Family may not understand how the Army operates or how to help with your issues, so having these resources readily available is a win for all. The website also provides a number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This number service available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in July the number will change to three-digits (988). If you are struggling or know someone who is, please don’t hesitate to use any of these resources. The ARD resources are available at: ARD Resources
The Army’s mission is to train its personnel to protect and defend our country. People are important, and we can’t afford to continue losing our battle buddies due to something that could have been prevented.
Please speak up if you or a battle buddy is suffering--help is always available.
*Written by Antwaun Parrish, Army Resilience Directorate