AUSA Webinar to Focus on Suicide Prevention Efforts

AUSA Webinar to Focus on Suicide Prevention Efforts

Photo by: New Jersey National Guard/Spc. Jacqueline Robinson

The Association of the U.S. Army is hosting a webinar on suicide prevention and awareness efforts in the Army.

The event, part of the Thought Leaders series, will feature James Helis, director of the Army Resilience Directorate. It begins at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 21.

Attendance is free, but registration is required here.

During the online event, Helis will discuss initiatives designed to prevent and respond to suicides in Army formations, including the development of new policies, a commander’s handbook, awareness materials and expanded telehealth capabilities.

Suicide prevention is a high priority for senior Army leaders as the service continues to grapple with the issue. 

In July, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said efforts were underway to tackle issues that might cause a service member to consider suicide, citing behavioral health and financial issues and relationship problems as possible causes.  

“We have a historically high rate of suicide in the Army right now, which is very concerning,” she told the House Armed Services Committee. Part of the response comes in team-building efforts that make soldiers feel more connected to their families, squad mates and leaders, she said. “If they have those connections, we have a better opportunity to get ahead of any potential problems.” 

The Army reported 377 suicides by active-duty members in 2020, a slight increase over the 348 deaths in 2019. 

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, testifying at the same hearing, said the deaths are heartbreaking. “It breaks my heart to lose any soldiers,” he said. “There is always something there about why did this soldier not have the will to live? What would make them be in that position where they no longer want to live?”