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SUICIDE INTERVENTION: Gatekeeper keeps light burning

By Sgt. Dana Moen | 1ST SUST. BDE. PUBLIC AFFAIRS | August 04, 2014

Sgt. Jeffrey Cusic, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 1st Support Maintenance Company, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, recently received a call no Soldier wants to hear.

“I got a call from this Soldier at 9 p.m. asking me to do him a favor – to call his wife and tell her that he loves her and their kids, too,” Cusic said.

“I knew him, and I knew right away something was wrong – that he needed my help.”

Five minutes after the phone call, Cusic was at this Soldier’s door. After assessing the situation, he called an ambulance to transport the Soldier for medical treatment.

“He later revealed that he wanted to kill himself and would take any action to try to get that to happen,” Cusic said. “I told him that I refused to be his suicide note and that they were going to get together and work through it.”

For his quick response in intervening with a potential suicide attempt and coming to the aid of a Soldier, Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general, presented him a commander’s coin July 8 at Fort Riley.

Cusic credits his Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training for the awareness, knowledge and steps necessary to protect a Soldier in need of aid. ASIST is the Army’s most effective training tool. No other training in the Army’s arsenal engages Soldiers in a scenario and makes them ask the hardest questions of Soldiers who are having the most difficult time.

Cusic said the Soldier is doing well after receiving care and counseling from the resources the Army has made available to all Soldiers.

“Every week we state how important it is that you take care of yourself, your family and (your) Army family,” Capt. David Lukefahr, 1st SMC commander, said. “This is a big deal to take that extra step and ensure the lives of our family are taken care of.”

“Durable” brigade leaders agree the brigade is moving in the right direction when it comes to suicide.

“I ensure at every newcomers briefing that our number one rule of being a ‘Pacesetter’ is looking out for yourself and your battle buddies,” Lt. Col. Ronnie Anderson, 541st CSSB commander, said.

Funk has previously laid out his definition for “Big Red One” Soldiers as being brave, responsible and on point for the nation, and Cusic was being just that.

“The Army is a people business, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a tanker or mechanic – it’s about taking care of each other.” Funk said.

“We are very proud of him.” 
Tag Suicide Intervention