September is Suicide Prevention Month

The U.S Army recognizes September as Suicide Prevention Month. During this month, the Army will demonstrate its continous commitment to enhancing Health Promotion / Risk Reduction / Suicide Prevention (HP/RR/SP) programs for Soldiers, Department of the Army (DA) civilians, and families. Suicide Prevention Month is an Army-wide opportunity to raise awareness, understanding, and use of Army HP/RR/SP programs among key internal and external audiences.

Over 160 Active-duty Soldiers committed suicide during 2009, continuing a five-year trend of increasing suicides in the Army. In response, the Army instituted a multi-level, holistic approach to HP/RR/SP that recognizes the many challenges our Soldiers, families and Army civilians face.

Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff, U.S. Army, has said that “Soldiers today live a lifetime in their first 6 years of service; [they] experience more during their first enlistment than most of their civilian peers will in a lifetime.”

Army programs aim to assist Soldiers, families and Army civilians with their “lifetime” of challenges, including substance abuse, financial and relationship problems, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

In spring 2009 the Army established the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force (ASPTF), an organization focused on promoting Soldier, civilian and family wellness. The Army also launched the Army Campaign Plan for Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention (ACPHP) in an effort to better synchronize efforts between multiple programs focused on care and support services.

Since its inception, the ASPTF has identified and executed more than 240 improvements to Army HP/RR/SP efforts, and, in July 2010, released the Army HP/RR/SP Report.

The Army will continue to strive to maintain a combat edge while reinforcing the garrison systems necessary to best care for Soldiers, DA civilians and families. It will do so by directly addressing the more than 240 recommendations made in the Army HP/RR/SP report released July 2010. In August 2010 the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force (ASPTF) was reorganized as the Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Task Force, that is now responsible for implementing these recommendations.

Visit the U.S. Army’s STAND-To! and www.preventsuicide.army.mil to get more information.