Major General Joseph Martin told a suicide prevention summit in Junction City Friday that there must be an effort to confront head-on the problem of suicidal thought and behavior.
The commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, stated the goal is to eliminate suicide from the active duty ranks and veteran’s community.
There have been a number of soldier suicides in the Fort Riley region in recent months, and many across the nation.
Martin noted suicide is difficult to predict. “Only trend I see is someone becomes so hopeless at what they’re facing in life that they no longer value their life.” He stated each of us is different with different sensors, and that trends can stem from relationships, financial or work stressor issues.
The commanding general added that the culture in the military is not always open to discuss this topic. To help meet the challenge there must be trust, mutual respect and empathy between the leaders and those that they lead. Data on suicide attempts have been studied to try and develop counter methods to deal with it, but sometimes the problem comes out of nowhere.
Martin reported that leader development is a critical aspect of the 1st Infantry Division and that has been reviewed. They want young NCO’s to be able to help identify stressors in a Soldier’s life, and there are visits to Soldiers they lead at their quarters both on and off post. He added that the best prevention is engaged leaders and peers.
During his comments Martin called for a need to change the perception within the community on the value of our lives. “We want to work to solve whatever issues that may exist.” He said they tell Soldiers they are not alone and asking for help is not a weakness, but in his opinion, a sign of courage.
Martin encouraged those attending the summit that together they can achieve the goal of eliminating suicide in our active and veteran’s ranks.