Employees wrapped up their suicide prevention stand-down activities here Oct. 15.
The effort, which included manager-led training sessions and small group discussions for each employee was part of the Army-wide suicide prevention stand-down conducted Sept. 27, said Lt. Col. Robert Haupt, the district’s deputy commander.
“We must work together to create a culture and an environment where people feel comfortable getting the behavioral health assistance that they need,” wrote Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, U.S. Army chief of staff, in a Sept. 27 memo to all Soldiers and civilian employees.
The Norfolk District senior civilian managers and supervisors addressed the culture and environment during a 2-hour leader suicide prevention and resiliency training class here Oct. 3, Haupt said.
Haupt, who conducted the training for 35 civilian leaders, said the focus was not merely about explaining the training material, but about creating a culture of leader involvement.
“It really became a bonding experience as people shared their personal experiences,” Haupt said. “It brought people together and built relationships.”
For Mark Camsky, the district’s resource manager, said he’d never seen any suicide prevention training as effective in 35 years of government service.
“There was actually emotion in the room – many people had tears in their eyes,” Camsky said. “The training was obviously striking the right chords. Each of us could think of someone in our lives, relate it to someone we know.”
During the course, Haupt introduced the Army’s 2012 suicide prevention theme “Shoulder to Shoulder, We Stand Up For Life” through a combination of slide presentations and multimedia products tailored for a variety of age groups and an Army civilian audience.
Training and discussions for supervisors and employees focused on the Army’s award-winning ACE or “Ask, Care and Escort,” which encourages Soldiers and employees at all levels to be alert to suicide warning signs, ask directly if a person is thinking about suicide, care for the person and escort to the person to professional help.
“Every individual contemplating suicide has a friend, family member or leader in the position to help. I need you all to get involved,” Odierno wrote. “Intervening requires personal courage and leadership. It isn't easy, but there is no room for bystanders.”