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Professional News
Army Expands Suicide Education
Psychiatric News
Volume 42 Number 18 page 9-9

The Army's newest antisuicide strategy focuses less on high-risk soldiers and instead combines teaching and awareness on the part of all service members, said Col. Elspeth Ritchie, MC, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general.

Mandatory training about suicide throughout the service is coupled with getting platoon mates, sergeants, and officers to recognize the signs that fellow soldiers are in psychological distress (see Dramatic Increase Found in Soldier Suicides).

"Suicide can be a preventable tragedy for soldiers, families, civilians, and communities," said an all-Army message from the deputy chief of staff's office in August. "Every effort must be made to understand and inform our Army personnel of the risk factors involved, and to provide training, education, and awareness of professional help at every level."

Among other materials, a series of pocket cards warns soldiers and officers about signs of suicidal behavior and offers tips on what to say and how to act if they appear.

One card reads in part: "Be a good friend. Listen. Don't leave your buddy alone! Secure any weapons. Take your buddy immediately to the chain of command or to medical care!"

U.S. Army resources on suicide prevention are posted at<http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide.asp> and 
 <http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/dhpw/Population/combat.aspx>.

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