MAINE - In 2012, 349 U.S. service members committed suicide. Two hundred and ninety-five were killed during combat in Afghanistan. That number, shows that the biggest threat may be the enemy we can’t always see, and some are afraid to talk about.
The Maine Army National Guard is taking an aggressive stance to try and reduce these numbers within their reach, and is committed to expanding their suicide intervention and prevention capabilities.
Between 2006 and 2010 suicide rates in the ARNG increased, exceeding those of the active duty component, the Army Reserve, and civilian rates. In 2012, the ARNG suicide rate increased to 30.75 per 100,000 soldiers, from 27.28 per 100,000 in 2011.
“Intervention is the best form of prevention we have right now,” said Col. Andrew Gibson, the chaplain for the Maine Army National Guard.
Council endorses suicide prevention training program
When it comes to suicide, it’s important to safeTALK.
“Once you have those thoughts, your risk is much higher to act on those in the future,” said Donna Bowyer, branch director for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and a certified trainer for suicide intervention. “Let’s come together as a community and erase the stigma of suicide. Awareness will lead to prevention.”
After Bowyer made a presentation to council at Tuesday’s meeting, council unanimously endorsed the safeTALK training program. Council also voted to encourage city administration and city leaders to participate in the upcoming training sessions.
When it comes to saving a life on the fly, CPR and first aid are the skills most people apply.
But there’s a new wave of training that’s proving to be equally important.
“It’s a lot like how people say the world would be a safer place if people had training in first aid or CPR,” said Owen Stockden, the communications officer for LivingWorks Education. “Statistically speaking, the average person will encounter more people who are at risk of suicide than who are in need of physical assistance with CPR or first aid. In that sense, it’s very much something we would recommend for everybody.”
SafeTalk is a suicide prevention workshop created by LivingWorks, a Calgary-based organization that emerged out of a volunteer group for the Canadian Mental Health Association in the 1970s. For more than 30 years, LivingWorks has been setting the standard for suicide prevention training on a national and internationally level, with its programs reaching as far as Australia.