Army works to prevent soldier suicides

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Teresa Snow of KRCG-Jefferson City, Mo., took a deeper look at suicides among active-duty military forces. Snow examined the factors that contribute to military suicide, spoke with a veteran who had attempted to take his own life and reviewed a two-hour suicide prevention video prepared by nearby Lincoln University at the Army’s behest.

Snow said the video, mandatory viewing last month for all 1.6 million members of the Army (both active duty and reserves), functions like a “choose-your-own-adventure” novel, with soldiers following along with characters and making decisions for them.

“It’s training on two levels,” says (LTC Gary) Gilmore. “What would I do as an individual when I just say all of these things, I feel like the world is dog piling on me what am I going to do about that? And the other piece is that OK, you’re the buddy who’s watching this happen, are you a real friend if you let him make a little secret with you and say don’t tell anybody? No, you have to say to him, I am being your friend, I’m not going to let this slide.”

Though the eyes of Wayne Dyle, Snow also took a raw firsthand look at the consequences of the Army’s failure to prevent suicides among active-duty forces and veterans.

Army Veteran Wayne Dyle doesn’t blame his time in the service but that last factor, drug and alcohol abuse for his suicide attempt. When he wanted to get off drugs and his wife did not, his third marriage began to break up. The break up and his $1500 a week drug habit were taking a toll. He describes how one day he loaded up, “When I ran out of the beer, the vodka, the meth, the crack, I ran out, I was out of money, said Doyle.”

Then he tried to slit his wrists.

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