Feature   Defense News

Brigade Focuses on Suicide Prevention During Holidays Amid Pandemic

Dec. 14, 2020 | BY Cameron Porter

Actively caring for each other was the central theme for the suicide awareness and prevention training, and equal opportunity introduction training conducted for the soldiers and civilians from the 405th Army Field Support Brigade, Kaiserslautern, Germany, Dec. 10, 2020.

Due to the constraints and measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one might expect the training to be reduced to small groups or cancelled all together, but that was not the case for the 405th AFSB team, who optimized technology to meet together and listen to each other virtually, as these very important topics were discussed.

A soldier wears a face mask while participating in a digital conference call.
Digital Presentation
Army Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Tadlock, the 405th Army Field Support Brigade equal opportunity advisor, participates in suicide awareness and prevention training, and equal opportunity introduction training online. Tadlock was one of the guest speakers during the 405th AFSB's virtual training event Dec.10, 2020.
Photo By: Cameron Porter, Army
VIRIN: 201210-A-SM279-454

The commander of the 405th AFSB opened the virtual training session with his own personal experiences and thoughtful words of encouragement and advice.

This is really important – especially coming up on the holidays, which is a high-risk time for depression and suicidal ideations, plus COVID-19 and everything that's going on with that, said Army Col. Brad Bane, the 405th AFSB commander.

Just recently, there were two suicides in the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's 16th Sustainment Brigade as well as many cases of soldiers, civilians and family members here in U.S. Army Europe showing suicidal ideations and a lot of near misses, Bane said.

"When the near misses happen, it's usually because there's a good support network involved," Bane said.

"I can tell you – speaking for myself – going through my life there are times I wake up saying 'wow, this is really, really hard.' I've been placed in very difficult situations that seem very finite," Bane said. "Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, depressed and helpless – but speaking from experience – even though I felt that way at times, things turned around very quickly."

"The key is to have a support network in place and feel open to talk about it," he added.

The primary guest speaker for the training was Army Chaplain (Maj.) Michael Dawson, the family life chaplain at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz. Dawson used a presentation as well as a video and his own sage words of advice and encouragement to emphasize suicide awareness and prevention key points.

"There have been recent suicides in our community so it is very real,” Dawson said, “and it's always sad to me when we lose a member of our community to suicide. How can we help them with whatever they are dealing with – with whatever is in their rucksack? You are the most import tool to assist in the prevention of suicide."

A graphic showing a slide presentation.
ACE Presentation
A presentation slide showing on a computer.
Photo By: DOD
VIRIN: 201210-A-SM279-752X

Army Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Tadlock, the 405th AFSB equal opportunity advisor, provided a short introduction to equal opportunity and included his contact information. Tadlock said he is planning to conduct a more in-depth training event virtually in January.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kofie Primus, the 405th AFSB command sergeant major, said the biggest take away from his perspective is the value of life and increased value of trust.

"That means leader to soldier – soldier to supervisor – soldier to civilian – civilian to soldier," Primus said.

One of the points covered in the training was the importance of memorizing or keeping on your person the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is 800-273-TALK (8255). Press 1 for the Military Crisis Line.

Suicide prevention is an integral component of the Army's readiness and resilience. When feeling distressed or hopeless, thinking about death or wanting to die, or if concerned about someone who may be suicidal, seek help.

(Cameron Porter is assigned to the 405th Army Field Support Brigade.)