First Army Stand Down On Suicide Prevention - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

First Army Stand Down On Suicide Prevention


The US First Army is taking steps toward suicide prevention. It's an issue that has touched many of us in some way, and First Army commanders say the military is no different.

In 2011, 283 soldiers in the US Army took their own life. So far this year, 187 soldiers have died this way.  

First Army officials say these are some of the worst statistics they've seen, and today they did something about it.  

"Suicide is an enemy of every man and woman in this country," Vietnam War Veteran John Musgrave says. 

Hundreds gathered at the Rock Island arsenal to fight a different kind of enemy and put suicide in the spotlight. 

"What we want is to nudge people along, just another increment in their sense of awareness and their resolve to make a difference," Army Chaplain Kevin Wilkinson says. 

Army leaders battled the issue, but also the belief that 'tough' soldiers don't need help. 

"It's about reducing that stigma, ensuring that soldiers can raise their hand regardless of what rank they are, what position they hold, or what location they're in, and say ‘Hey I need some help,'" LTG. Mick Bednarek says. 

Soldiers and their families got a firsthand look into the lives of those who've struggled with these issues themselves.  

"If you just sit there and wait for someone to answer your questions for you, to handle all your problems, all you're going to do is going to sink deeper into that hole," Musgrave says.  

Participants were also able to find out more about every organization and outlet available on the arsenal that can help. 

"How can we assist, how can we help, what resources are out there that we can avail ourselves to to assist and step in?" Bednarek says. 

Even though there is no simple answer, they're hoping this will make a difference-- no matter how big or small.  

"Provoke them to think ‘What can I do to make a small measure of difference in another life?'" Wilkinson says.  

"We cannot afford to lose these people," Musgrave says.

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