Chaplain (Col.) Michael Dugal and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Bowerman
FORT SHAFTER — September is designated by Army leaders as Suicide Awareness and Prevention.
Thursday, Sept. 27, all Soldiers in the Army family will pause to focus on suicide prevention.
In our careers as chaplains, we constantly meet people whose lives have been touched by suicide —whether it’s someone who has contemplated or attempted suicide, or friends and family members dealing with suicide’s nightmare and aftermath.
We hear the emotional pain of Soldiers and family members pushing them to consider such a desperate act, and we journey with the survivors of suicide who are plagued with the question of “why?”
Every one of us is a “first line responder” when it comes to combating suicide. Every one of us has the skill and opportunity to encourage others.
The greatest means to combating suicide is to be connected with individuals and communities who truly care for us. We find fulfillment and purpose when we are involved in meaningful and healthy relationships. After all, we were created for relationship.
The word encourage means “to breathe life into” another. Many times just taking the time to hear what is going on in someone’s life can birth the opportunity to encourage.
You don’t have to be a trained counselor or a chaplain to encourage another individual. Simply being present with a friend, colleague, peer, subordinate or family member allows encouragement to naturally happen.
This week we invite you to intentionally work on being an encourager. Practice being present with those you work with and those in your family. Allow your faith to fuel words of encouragement as you hear the Divine’s voice whisper, “You are my beloved.”
Our Army family has been greatly touched by suicide.
One suicide is one too many, and the ripple effects of suicide continue to flow far and wide.
Thursday, Sept. 27, please join your command as we work together to reach out and help solve this problem that impacts our entire Army community, our Pacific ohana.
Let us encourage one another.
(Note: Dugal is the command chaplain, USARPAC, and Bowerman is world religions chaplain, USARPAC.)
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III has ordered an Armywide suicide “stand down,” Sept. 27, as part of the Army’s Suicide Prevention Month. The stand down is one way to empower leadership to prevent further loss of life due to suicide.
The stand down is meant to familiarize all members of the Army family with the health promotion, risk reduction, suicide prevention and comprehensive Soldier and family fitness resources available in the Army.
Government agencies and national organizations offer a variety of suicide prevention tools and resources:
•National Suicide Prevention Hotline, (800) 273-TALK (8255);