Reserve Component Outreach: Improved Suicide Prevention for the Total Force

  • Lieutenant Colonel Bryan M. Brokate

The Army is preparing for an uncertain complex future by establishing Force 2025. One area lacking in preparation is Soldier resiliency to face a volatile, fluid environment. The suicide crisis that has plagued the force for 13 years demonstrates the resiliency shortfall. The last two years have seen a drop in fatalities, but the Army still lost 238 Soldiers to suicide in 2014. Suicide prevention must be part of any plan to increase Army resiliency. The current Army Suicide Prevention Program (ASPP) fails to apply a holistic approach to Soldier suicides and contains a gap in its coverage to the Reserve Component (RC), which make up 52 percent of the total Army structure. The bulk of the ASPP for RC personnel is limited to on-line and telephonic resources. The ASPP avoids the use of religious resources despite the fact that over 73 percent of the Soldiers identify a religious preference. Including local religious organizations into the ASPP provides an additional counseling tool for religious adherents across the formation. The recommendation is to establish a voluntary community partnership program between RC units and local religious organizations to provide RC Soldiers with local (face-to-face) resources for suicide prevention.