On May 15, the New York Times ran a front page feature with the headline, Baffling Rise in Suicides Plagues the U.S. Military (see https://nyti.ms/102xQSV). The article cites that “suicide among active duty troops….hit a record high of 350 in 2012… twice as many as a decade before and surpassing the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan…” This tragic situation affecting our youth, our future, needs to be addressed urgently.
The article states that the military is “under intense pressure to improve treatment and prevention programs, yet the persistently high suicide rates have raised questions about which, if any, programs work.” Interestingly, the article mentions that “some experts say the Pentagon should focus on fewer programs that might have qui Publish cker impact.” I WAS THERE workshops do provide such quicker impact. In participant surveys conducted at the end of our workshops, soldiers express feelings of immediate relief, reduction in anxiety, and new hope for the future.
Also mentioned is the challenge of simply getting suicidal service members into treatment. “Surveys show that despite campaigns to reduce stigma, many service members continue to believe that treatment will be ineffective or hurt their careers.” Again, the I WAS THERE film workshops are a fitting solution. The casual, friendly group settings and open interchange of ideas and experiences can be less intimidating than individual sessions or treatments with doctors or therapists.
The disturbing messages in this article serve to reinforce our commitment to the I WAS THERE film workshops. We believe our workshops provide an urgently needed alternative to heal our servicemen and women and help them move towards a brighter tomorrow.