The comment thread about the loss of one of Flopping Aces’ own, Maj. Chris Galloway, has all of us doing some head scratching as to what we can do as individuals. This sense of helplessness, *after* the loss, is simply not acceptable.
Wordsmith did provide some extra insight in his remembrance of Chris with a YouTube link, but I felt that Major General Mark Graham – Commander, Division West and Fort Carson, Colo – and his suicide prevention program needs to be broadened with a grassroots movement.
Below is the ACE card given to military members.. ASK, CARE and ESCORT. It’s an action plan when you see one of our warriors in trouble.
Like an omen, I happened to pick up a People Magazine my mother purchased as a fluke while I’m visiting her, and my Dad, in Florida. She wanted to read the cover story of Farrah Fawcett. Ironically, a non-cover story was about Major General Mark Graham, and his mission to prevent suicides of troops, along with his wife, Carol.
Even more ironic, August happens to be the military’s Suicide Prevention Month.
The Grahams have lost two sons… Army 2nd Lt. Jeff Graham died in February 2004, saving his platoon from a bomb on a bridge in Khaldiyah, Iraq.
But eight months earlier, they lost another son… ROTC cadet kevin Graham. Suffering from depression, he hung himself in his apartment at the University of Kentucky.
Excerpt from the People article:
Condolence calls and bouquets poured in [after Jeff’s death]. They wondered, where were these mourners for Kevin? “Everybody is treating you totally different”, says Carol. Leaving a funeral home for the second time in eight months, the Grahams made a decision. At a stoplight, Mark Graham said, “The loss of the boys can either be the whole book of our lives, or it can be two tragic chapters.” Soon after, they started the Jeff and Kevin Graham Memorial Fund to prevent suicide on college campuses.
Years passed before he would discuss the issue among the ranks. In 2006, a military-family survivirs’ group, TAPS, asked him to speak. Losing a loved on in war is a frequent stopic on that circuit, and he expected they wanted to hear about Jeff. Instead, for the first time, he was asked to address suicide. It was a turning point: Since then, has has spoken about it often. “I hope it’s helped,” he says. “To be frank, it’s not easy. It’s horrendous.”
Our warriors are everywhere, and in various status of service. If a nation can be cajoled into spying on their neighbors for anti-Obama statements, I suggest it can even be easier to alert a nation to a warrior in trouble.
And to that end, I’d like to provide some suicide prevention resources.
For more information about Suicide Prevention Month or to request a suicide prevention presentation or to seek assistance for someone contemplating suicide, call the Employee Assistance Program at 842-0895 or 842-9897.
Other suicide intervention resources include:
Fox Army Health Center’s Behavioral Medicine, 955-888, ext. 1930;
Chaplain Services, 842-2174, 842-2176 or 541-6359;
Military One Source, 1-800-342-9647;
Huntsville/Madison County Mental Health Services, 533-1970;
National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255;
and VA Readjustment Counseling Services, 1-800-271-1000.
You can see Major General Graham’s quick clip on the ACE program at the DOD’s Military Health System website.
Warning Signs: When a Soldier presents any combination of the following, the buddy or chain of command should be more vigilant and consider help:
• Talk of suicide or killing someone else
• Giving away property or disregard for what happens to one’s property
• Withdrawal from friends and activities
• Problems with girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse
• Acting bizarre or unusual (based on your knowledge of the person)
• In trouble for misconduct
• Soldiers experiencing financial problems
• Soldiers who have lost their job at home (such as Reservists or Guardsmen)
• Soldiers leaving the service
When a Soldier presents any one of these concerns, the Soldier should be seen immediately by a helping provider:
• Talking or hinting about suicide
• Formulating a plan to include acquiring the means to kill oneself
• Having a desire to die
• Obsession with death (music, poetry, artwork)
• Themes of death in letters and notes
• Finalizing personal affairs
• Giving away personal possessions
Risk factors are those things that increase the probability that difficulties could result in serious adverse behavioral or physical health. The risk factors only raise the risk of an individual being suicidal – it does not mean they are suicidal.
Risk factors often associated with suicidal behavior include:
• Relationship problems (loss of girlfriend or boyfriend, or divorce)
• History of previous suicide attempts
• Substance abuse
• History of depression or other mental illness
• Family history of suicide or violence
• Work-related problems
• Transitions (retirement, permanent change of station or discharge)
• A serious medical problem
• Significant loss (death of a loved one, loss due to natural disasters)
• Current/pending disciplinary or legal action
• Setback (academic, career or personal)
• Severe, prolonged and/or perceived unmanageable stress
• A sense of powerlessness, helplessness and/or hoplessness
Suicidal risk is highest when:
• The person sees not way out and fears things may get worse
• The predominant emotions are hopelessness and helplessness
• Thinking is constricted with a tendency to perceive his or her situation as all bad
• Judgment is impaired by use of alcohol or other substances