Military couple avert Soldier’s suicide attempt

Story and photo by Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

One evening in late July, military police called Sgt. 1st Class Danny Licciardi saying a Soldier he knew needed help.

The Soldier had called stateside, telling friends goodbye. Fortunately, those friends called Military OneSource, a service that counsels Soldiers and families during difficult times. They alerted military police in Kaiserslautern — but they didn’t know where to look.

Licciardi, the NCO in charge of the garrison’s religious support office, tried the Soldier’s cell phone. No answer. He and his wife, Charlene, got into their car — not knowing where to go. Licciardi called again and again. After 15 calls, he heard the Soldier answer in slurred words.

“Don’t hang up,” Licciardi said. “Stay on the line.”

An hour earlier, the Soldier had parked in an isolated area and overdosed on pills. Barely conscious, the Soldier could not tell Licciardi where the car was. Time was running out. If Licciardi couldn’t keep the Soldier awake and figure out where the car was, it might be too late. That’s when suicide prevention training kicked in, he said, allowing him to stay focused. 

“Danny was very calm, totally in control. I was really impressed,” said Charlene Sanchez-Licciardi, who works at the garrison’s Army Community Service. “We had to ask leading questions because we did not know where the Soldier was.”

Training and suicide prevention awareness information helped the Licciardis as they drove along a wooded road behind Ramstein Air Base. Nerve-racking minutes passed as they kept the Soldier talking.

“Stay awake,” he told the Soldier. “Don’t close your eyes.”

Danny had an idea where the Soldier was. Meanwhile, Charlene called the military police, telling them about the pills and the Soldier’s relative location. Out of the corner of his eye, using what Charlene described as a sixth sense, Danny spotted the Soldier’s car.

“When we got there it was even more nerve-racking,” Danny Licciardi said. “The MPs and the ambulance arrived about five minutes later.”

The Soldier was taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and afterward went to the U.S. for further treatment. For their efforts, the Army’s Installation Management Command recently recognized the Licciardis as heroes. During a teleconference, Joe Capps, IMCOM’s executive director, told the Licciardis how proud the command was of their dedication.

“What distinguishes a great leader is that they are intimately involved and care about Soldiers. They do not let time or distance stand between them and the people they lead,” Capps said. “The Army owes you a lot for that type of leadership.”