IMCOM program aims to prevent Soldier suicides

A new program that began Feb. 15 aims to decrease the alarming number of Soldiers taking their own lives.

During the next five months, Installation Management Command is conducting suicide prevention training in three phases for its Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and family members. The goal is to increase community awareness of suicide risk factors and warning signs and to encourage intervention for at-risk troops.

In 2008, suicidal behavior among U.S. servicemembers was at an all-time high, with 143 Soldiers taking their own lives.

According to officials, suicides are occurring across every segment of the Army – active-duty, reservists, officers, enlisted, deployed, non-deployed and those who have not yet been deployed.

Therefore, IMCOM leaders have directed a “Stand Down” phase, which will be followed by a more deliberate chain-teaching program that focuses on suicide prevention and allows leaders to communicate with all Soldiers.

As part of the program, IMCOM-Europe units will conduct a “Stand-Down” between now and March 15. Accordingly, every Soldier and DA civilian will participate in an initial training block led by commanders and/or leaders down to the directorate or branch level.

“Stand-Down” conductors will use the “Beyond the Front” facilitators’ guide and interactive video to enhance Soldiers’ ability to recognize risk factors, warning signs and how to intervene in order to prevent suicidal behavior.

The second phase of the program runs from March 15 to July 15, with units holding a chain-teach session – which also highlights risk factors and warning signs – for Soldiers, DA civilians and family members. Sessions will be held at all IMCOM-Europe organizational levels.

During this portion of the program, commanders will use the “Shoulder to Shoulder, No Soldier Stands Alone” facilitator guide and video.

The sustained third phase – which runs concurrently with the first two phases and will continue indefinitely – establishes annual training requirements and institutionalizes IMCOM suicide prevention training.

“It is imperative that all IMCOM Soldiers, DA civilians and family members understand the individual suicide risk factors and warning signs and take action to intervene on behalf of fellow Soldiers and others,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson, IMCOM commander, in a message detailing the program in which he stressed that IMCOM “is committed to protecting the entire force.”