leader resources

Suicide prevention in the Army requires active engagement by leaders at every level. The resources listed below were created to assist you implement your Suicide Prevention Program.

Senior Commander’s Handbook to Suicide Prevention

This handbook is meant to assist senior commanders in implementing the Army Suicide Prevention Program (SPP). It demonstrates how leaders at echelon, with support, can synchronize installation efforts to achieve effects that improve readiness and help prevent deaths by suicide.

Unit Commander's Handbook to Suicide Prevention

The purpose of this handbook is to thoroughly examine, from a leadership perspective, the fundamental concepts and engagement necessary to develop and execute an effective suicide prevention program. The suicide prevention framework utilizes visibility tools, which assess risk and protective factors. The suicide prevention framework also establishes a unit forum to operationalize the suicide prevention program through the operations process.

U.S. Army Unit Commander’s Suicide Postvention Handbook

This handbook provides guidance to Commanders to help them effectively lead their units through suicide postvention activities to reset the readiness of the unit through identification of the key tasks and resources required to execute an effective suicide postvention process that destigmatizes the tragedy, operationalizes the aftermath, and promotes individual and unit recovery.

Postvention consists of the structured activities following a suicide attempt or death by suicide that promote recovery and healing among those affected. The three phases of postvention are:

  1. Stabilize - sets the foundation to promote recovery and minimize risk
  2. Grieve - moves away from focusing on the cause of death to emphasize the life lived and service of the deceased, and takes action to facilitate and support healthy grieving
  3. Grow - helps survivors grow, build and sustain unit cohesion, and instill a culture of help-seeking behavior

DOD Postvention Toolkit for a Military Suicide Loss

The goal of this toolkit is to promote healing among suicide loss survivors and to minimize any negative effects of exposure to a suicide death, including suicide contagion (“imitation” suicides). Information in this toolkit is drawn from policies, research, survivors’ feedback, and subject matter experts’ experience of supporting survivors.

Leaders Suicide Prevention Safe Messaging Guide

Promoting safe communication about suicide starts with leaders. Leverage the Leaders Suicide Prevention Safe Messaging Guide (Leaders Safe Messaging Guide) to communicate safely about suicide and suicide risk across your military Service, installation, unit, office, and community. Download the Implementation Guidance here.

Army Lethal Means Safety Communication Toolkit

This Lethal Means Safety Communication Toolkit offers resources that brings awareness of lethal means that may be used in a suicide attempt. These best practices highlight prevention with easy safety storage tips and lifestyle advice by increasing time and space between individuals and lethal means.

Lethal Means Safety Guide for Military Service Members and Their Families

Suicide is a serious and complex issue, with many contributing factors and no single solution. This guide will help individuals understand one of the contributing factors to suicide – access to lethal means – and will share information and strategies to help.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Materials

Order print materials for delivery or download digital materials for immediate use. Before you can obtain materials, you must register for a free account and confirm your organizational affiliation. Follow the “New Users - Click Here to Register” to fill out and submit the form.

Ask, Care, Escort

Download the ACE Suicide Intervention Card to keep as a quick reference of what to do when at-risk Army Family members show warning signs. The Military Crisis Line and other resources are also available on the card.

Leaders Guide and Postvention Checklist

This checklist is designed to assist leaders in guiding their response to deaths by suicide and suicide attempts. Research suggests the response by a unit’s leadership can play a role in the prevention of additional deaths by suicide/suicide events or, in worst cases, inadvertently contribute to increased deaths by suicide/suicide attempts (suicide contagion). This checklist is intended to augment any local policies. It incorporates “lessons learned” from leaders who have experienced death by suicide in their unit and is intended to support a leader’s judgment and experience. The checklist does not outline every potential contingency which may come from a suicide or suicide attempt.

Army Reserve Postvention Guide/Toolkit

This guide provides Reserve Component Commanders and other leaders a toolkit to develop a postvention plan after a unit member’s death by suicide. Postvention refers to response activities that should be undertaken in the immediate aftermath of a death by suicide that has impacted the unit. Postvention has two purposes: to help survivors cope with their grief and to prevent additional deaths by suicide. It also may be an opportunity to disseminate accurate information about death by suicide, encourage help-seeking behavior and provide messages of resilience, hope, and healing. There are also unit advantages in that postvention is geared towards facilitating unit cohesion, maintaining mission readiness and restoring unit effectiveness in the wake of a tragic event. The toolkit also outlines roles and responsibilities.

Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) Family Guide: Supporting Military Families in Crisis

This user-friendly guide is a resource for Military Families dealing with stress, difficult situations or emotions. It provides you with many useful tools to help better understand what you are experiencing, and it will help you find assistance to help you through a crisis or to address your concerns.

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