Talking, being genuine makes all the difference to prevent fatalities
Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Amber Robinson
U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs
FORT SHAFTER — Recent Army statistics show an increase in Soldier suicides compared to last year, which has brought great concern to the Army.
In response, the Army initiated an Armywide Suicide Prevention Stand Down, for suicide awareness, Sept. 27.
Leaders, Soldiers and civilians within U.S. Army-Pacific addressed the issue of suicide in a variety of ways, with the intended result of setting the stage for a more aware and involved force.
USARPAC Soldiers began the Suicide Prevention Stand Down with a battalion run, which started and ended at historic Palm Circle. Maj. Gen. Roger Mathews, deputy commander, USARPAC, addressed Soldiers before the run.
“As we stand here, today, I ask you to think about those Soldiers who are missing from our ranks because they have taken their own life,” Matthews said.
Each section and directorate generated discussion about suicide, such as how suicide can best be handled and what Soldiers and civilians can do to become more aware of suicide prevention in their work space.
Col. Michael Dugal, command chaplain, USARPAC, conducted mandatory suicide prevention training at the fitness center, here, for Soldiers and Army civilians.
Dugal encouraged Soldiers and leaders to remain open and approachable for Soldiers who may be in need. He especially encouraged those in need to come forward.
“We must all be ambassadors of hope,” Dugal said. “We all have a responsibility to each other.”
“What is most important is being genuine in the effort,” said Wayne Hankammer, Suicide Prevention program manager, USARPAC. “That is all it really takes. If someone, even if it is just Soldier-to-Soldier, wants to talk to someone, and they feel the person they are talking to have their back and wants to listen, that makes all the difference.”
“We have a lot of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who live out in the community,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Leota, senior enlisted leader, USARPAC. “We need to get the message out of the importance of the steps we are taking as an Army.
“This involves the community because it affects the community,” Leota explained. “A lot of our Soldiers are a part of this community, so it’s not just an Army problem. It’s our nation’s problem.”
A Health Promotion Fair was held in conjunction with training. Soldiers could gather information from various health organizations about how to maintain a healthy psyche, a good attitude and a healthy body.