TN National Guard sees 4 suicides in 3 weeks; conducts Stand Down to Suicide

11:18 PM, Oct 13, 2012   |    comments
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The Tennessee National Guard has seen at least four suicides in the past three weeks.

The alarming statistics hit home for Knoxville's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. They lost a soldier three weeks ago to suicide.

This weekend the 278th stopped all training and conducted a Stand Down to Suicide.

The Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard, Maj. Gen. Max Haston, ordered that every unit provide suicide prevention training during the month of October. The Stand Down was planned prior to the recent suicides.

"It's really sad that a soldier who has been to combat and conquered the enemy comes back home and feels like he can't conquer the enemy within," said the 278th's Deputy Commander Col. Jeff Archer.

The training consisted of a series of classes that gave soldiers resources, warning signs, and information about counseling.

While Col. Archer said some of the suicides are combat related, "a lot of its not. A lot of it is life stressors: the economy, relational problems, alcohol and drug problems."

The unit also discussed the Tennessee National Guard's two latest prevention programs: Battle Buddy and the Guard Your Buddy smartphone app.

Battle Buddy partners every soldier and airmen with a buddy to check in on periodically.

The Guard your Buddy application connects soldiers to a professional if they are need as well as lists resources available.

The goal is to take the stigma out of asking for help.

"It's important for soldiers to understand that it's courageous to ask for help when you need it," Col. Archer said.

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