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September is Suicide Prevention Month, but we must work every day to prevent suicide. Every Soldier we lose to this silent killer is a tragedy for that Soldier, his or her Family, and our Army.
In combat, we fight together as teams to defeat our enemies, accomplish the mission and protect our fellow Soldiers. And we must fight together to prevent suicide. In particular, we can commit to do the following: know your Soldiers and be sensitive to warning signs such as substance abuse, financial distress, relationship problems, signs of social disconnection, distractibility, suspiciousness of friends, irritability, and inconsistency.
Ensure that seeking assistance is not stigmatized. Intervene by using the Army suicide prevention model: Ask the Soldier if he is considering suicide, care for the Soldier by actively listening and removing anything that could be used to cause injury, and escort the Soldier to a care provider such as a chaplain, behavioral health specialist or primary care provider.
Control of stress and ensuring the health of the force is a command responsibility. Pay particular attention to sponsorship, welcoming, and integration of new Soldiers and Families. Reinforce unit cohesion and the chain of command every day.
Perhaps most importantly, encourage each other to seek assistance for matters pertaining to psychological, ethical and spiritual readiness. Seeking assistance is a sign of strength and responsibility, not of weakness. We must place the same priority on building psychological resiliency and readiness as we do on building physical readiness and proficiency in combat skills.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, help is available 24 hours a day through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, or 1-800-273-TALK. Remember to never leave a friend alone who is considering suicide; stay with him until he receives care from a chaplain, behavioral health provider, or primary care provider.
Suicide prevention is everyones responsibility. Lets work together to make sure no member of our Army Family is ever left in this battle alone.
One Force, One Fight!
Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster Commanding general