Caring is the pivotal cornerstone of preventing suicides

| September 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

Lt. Col. Blain S. Walker
U.S. Army Public Health Command



WASHINGTON — Ask, Care, Escort, or ACE, training is the Army-approved suicide prevention and awareness training model for all Soldiers, leaders, family members and Army civilians.

Soldiers have been completing ACE suicide awareness training on an annual basis for several years now, and they can probably tell you all of the warning signs and risk factors of suicide from memory.

But is that awareness enough?

Preventing suicide is more than just knowing what puts Soldiers at risk for taking their life; preventing suicide is all about ACE.

To Ask

Ask is the most difficult challenge when you think someone may be suicidal. People fear asking the question, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

They may be afraid of offending their friend. In reality, friends are more likely to be grateful that you care enough about them to ask the question and that you are aware of the pain they are going through. By asking the question, you are letting them know that they have a friend who is listening to them.

It is also hard for us to believe someone we know or care about is considering taking that final step. Suicide is something that always happens to someone else.

What if the answer is yes?

What do you do if you’ve confirmed someone is suicidal?

Familiarize yourself with the resources available to overcome this fear.

Knowing the answers to these questions will not only help alleviate the fear of getting a “yes,” but will help with the escort step in the ACE model.

To Care

Caring is key to the whole ACE model. In fact, the model should be CAE, but that acronym doesn’t make any sense and is not as easy to remember.

When you care about people, you are more likely to listen to them when they are experiencing emotional or physical pain. You are more likely to be concerned about their welfare and see that they get through their trials.

When you care about someone you think may be suicidal, to ask the question, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” becomes much easier. When you care about someone, you are more likely to find out what and where the local resources are and escort a friend to get the help he or she needs.

It is not uncommon for individuals who are suicidal to feel alone, that no one cares whether they live or die. By actively listening and engaging with a friend, you are showing that you care. That may be enough to help prevent a suicide.

To Escort

Escorting is the easiest step in the ACE model. Take the time to find out where your local chaplain and behavioral health providers are, as well as where the nearest military treatment facility or emergency room is located.

When you ask if someone is suicidal, and they say yes, care enough to escort them to the nearest resource where they can get help.



If you or someone you care about is considering suicide, get help immediately.

•Call the Military Police at 656-7114 or 438-7114.

•Call the National Suicide Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 (TALK).

•Call Military OneSource at (800) 342-9647.

Prevention resources

Numerous resources are available to help prevent or intervene when you know someone is suicidal:

•Find helpful apps at



•Visit the Suicide Prevention Program at Building 2091, Schofield Barracks, or call 655-9105.

•Watch the suicide awareness video at

Suicide Prevention Month 

The Army is committed to the health, safety and well-being of its Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and families.

To emphasize the commitment, the Army is extending observance of National Suicide Prevention week, Sept. 4-10, to the entire month of September.

Suicide Prevention Month is a critical, Armywide opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of the joint effort required to successfully eliminate suicide within our ranks, as well as encourage use of the key Army support services.

“Soldiers today live a lifetime in their first six years of service; (they) experience more during their first enlistment than most of their civilian peers will in a lifetime,” said Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

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.

While continuing to stress the importance of taking care of one’s physical, mental and spiritual health, the Army is placing special emphasis on the impact first-line supervisors and junior leaders can have in the third of an ongoing series of suicide prevention videos released annually, “Shoulder to Shoulder: Finding Strength and Hope Together.”

“The video encourages first-line supervisors and junior leaders to intervene early, in order to stop problems from escalating,“ said Walter Morales, program chief, Army Suicide Prevention. Every suicide represents a tragic loss to our Army and nation.

All Army family members must recognize that reducing the incidence of suicide within our Army requires a holistic approach to improving physical, mental and spiritual health. By focusing on resiliency and positive life-coping skills, the Army will not only lower suicide rates, but also enhance quality of life for our entire Army community.

(Editor’s Note: Information was compiled from the Army’s “Stand-To.”)


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