Suicide prevention week set to educate
Story by: Jessica Healey
1ST INF. DIV. POST
The week of Sept. 16 to 20 is Suicide Prevention Week. During that time, resiliency resources will be highlighted at Fort Riley and will include unit stand-down days and a suicide prevention candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Outdoor Chapel, which is located off of 1st Division Road.
The vigil is open to the community and will focus on healing for surviving Family members and friends of suicide victims.
"Suicide Prevention Week will provide the community – Soldiers, Family members, Department of Defense civilians – with the opportunity to have discussions with leaders and hear from speakers," said Judy Woodward, 1st Infantry Division health promotion officer.
Speakers will include retired Maj. Gen. Mark and Carol Graham, Jared Estes and Tempered Steel, Wounded Warriors Speaking program.
The Grahams are champions of military and civilian efforts to promote mental health and suicide-prevention awareness and to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health care. They both speak across the nation to honor the memory of their two sons, 2nd Lt. Jeff Graham, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in February 2004, and their son, Kevin, a senior Army ROTC cadet, who died by suicide in June 2003, while studying to be an Army doctor at the University of Kentucky.
Estes, Wichita, Kan., speaks across the state about how he felt after his wife, Paige, was killed in 2005 by a drunk driver, and he was critically injured in the same crash.
Tempered Steel, based out of Atchison, Kan., consists of wounded warriors who have suffered physical and psychological injuries. They speak about their stories of survival in hopes of inspiring others to rise above the obstacles in life.
"In addition, units will conduct unit-based training that will focus on strengthening and responsibility to the team," Woodward said. "Our commitment endures long past the focused Suicide Prevention Week, throughout the year to sustaining the commitment and responsibility to each other."
The theme for this year's Suicide Prevention Week is "We Stand Together as One," and emphasis is being placed on facing mental resiliency as a team, instead of one person facing it alone.
"Fort Riley's commitment to decreasing stigma and being 'brave, responsible and on point' continues to have a positive impact in preventing fatal outcomes across our community," Woodward said.
Unit-based training will be conducted during unit stand-down days. Family members are welcome to join their Soldiers unit for this training opportunity. The exact schedule of a particular unit's training time can be obtained by contacting that unit.
One resource always readily available for veterans and Family members offered by Military One Source is the Veteran's Crisis Hotline, which is available via phone, text and web chat. Information on utilizing the Veteran's Crisis hotline can be found at www.veteranscrisisline.net. To talk to someone immediately, call 1-800-273-8255.
"There is absolutely no substitute for a leader, fellow Soldier or Family member who recognizes when an individual is in distress and has the knowledge and moral courage to take action to prevent a fatal outcome," Woodward said. "We are a team. We are a community. No one stands alone – we stand as one."
For more information about the Suicide Prevention Program, call Army Community Service at 785-239-9435 or visit www.riley.army.mil/NewsViewer.aspx?id=4614.