US Army takes day to "stand down" for suicide prevention training
FORT KNOX, KY (WAVE) - Suicide is a problem in the military. So much so that Thursday, the United States Army took the day to "stand down" and put away their usual duties to learn about suicide prevention. At Fort Knox and Army posts across the U.S. and much of the world, daily operations were put on hold for a day as soldiers and civilians learned about suicide prevention.
"It's about saving lives. Right now, the Army has gone through a lot of suicides," said Command Sergeant Major Bruce A. Lee of the Human Resources Command. "Most recently and it's important that we increase the awareness for all our soliders and department of the army civilians."
In the first seven months of 2012, there were 116 suicides among active duty soldiers, according to officials.
Sergeant First Class Nephoteria Omeally is a master resilience trainer. For her this issue hits close to home.
"I've lost some friends to suicide," she said. "It hurts. Especially like the emotional piece that you're left with. Not knowing why they did it."
During the "stand down" day, soldiers and civilians learned about things including the signs of potential suicide and resources available for soldiers. Command Sergeant Major Lee said there is no common denominator of why there are suicides in the Army. Lee said to look for signs including a change in behavior as a possible sign.
"It's been some hard times," Command Sergeant Major Lee said. "We have asked our soldiers to do a lot of hard things. We have put a lot of stress on our soldiers and our soldiers' families. But again, there is no common denominator that's associated with suicide."
Jerry Mraz is the Deputy Chief of staff of the Army Human Resources Command. "If you need help, seek help," he said. "That's been one of the barriers we want to ensure is broken down. It's not, it takes strength to seek help. It's not a sign of weakness."
It was a day of focused training and learning for thousands of soldiers and civilians.
"I'm hoping that they walk away with more knowledge that they're armed with," Command Sergeant Major Lee said. "That they can see some signs. They can encourage somebody to seek help."
As people and soldiers including Omeally make a sincere effort to try to save lives. "Sometimes when people care, and you know that you have people around you that care, it helps," she said.
To learn more about Army suicide prevention, click here. For more information on the Kentucky Suicide Prevention group, click here.
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