Footsteps in Faith: Support systems, battle buddies can help prevent suicides

| September 19, 2014 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Maj.) James Blount
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii



“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” — Robert Kennedy.


What if we all thought of each other as potential battle buddies?

The idea is that everyone you come into contact with in our military community is your battle buddy. It could create such a positive environment, where no one would be left out and everyone could maybe, just maybe, be truly heard and understood.

One of the major ways to try to prevent suicide is to provide some type of genuine and effective social support system for people who are at risk. A genuine and effective social support system must be made up of people who really care about the individual at risk and who are really listening, looking and trying to understand where that person is coming from.

There is no sure way to predict and stop every single suicide, but we must do a better job of connecting the dots in the lives of those we care about who may be at risk.

I found myself in a situation many years ago at Camp Bond Steel, Kosovo, where I had the opportunity to be the support system for a Soldier who had become depressed and then enraged to the point of becoming homicidal and suicidal. He had fired his weapon, chased everyone out of the Soldiers living quarters and closed himself inside where he put on full combat gear.

He was waiting there, ready to take as many people out as he could before they would kill him.

He told me not to come in, but I came in anyway to face an M-16 pointed directly at my head.

For more than five-and-a-half hours we talked, and I looked and listened, trying to connect the dots. He and I became battle buddies during those hours, and eventually, I earned his total trust. Finally, someone was really listening to him and taking him seriously.

To make a very long story short, he eventually gave up and no one was hurt. Thank God for that!

We simply must be there for each other during difficult times and never leave someone behind. Ask, Care and Escort. Most importantly, we must really look and listen, always trying to connect the dots.

We can do better!

(Editor’s note: Blount received the Soldier’s Medal for his actions in Kosovo. His story is profiled in the book “Miracles and Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Military Chaplains” by Nancy B. Kennedy.)

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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