G-1, Human Resources Policy Directorate
Supporting Soldiers, Families & Civilians – Active, Guard, Reserve and Retired
3 September 2008
What is the role of Chaplains in cases of potential suicide? (They can provide an alternative to mental health services, and there is less stigma about consulting with the Chaplain. Chaplains may be more adept at exploring a person’s values and beliefs. Some individuals may feel more comfortable talking with a Chaplain. Some individuals may feel that they have greater confidentiality when speaking with a Chaplain.)
It is a community standard that the least restrictive environment be used when treating people. As a result, individuals are not psychiatrically hospitalized involuntarily unless they are at an imminent risk to themselves and others. How should we as an organization define imminent risk? (Most federal and state courts have defined imminent risk as the probability that a person will harm him/herself or others within 24 hours.)
At what point should a Chaplain or mental health provider reveal confidential information to others? (Release of confidential information is permitted when another health care provider is assisting in the treatment of the individual. Confidentiality may also be broken when the individual is imminently suicidal. If imminently homicidal, the provider may notify the MP’s and any specifically named target. For instance, it would be proper to alert SFC Jones that the SSG states that he will kill him tonight. It is not permissible to break confidentiality if the SM states something to the effect of, “I am going to kill people at random tonight. Confidentiality may also be broken in cases where the information obtained would significantly affect the unit’s ability to perform its mission. Finally, confidentiality may be broken in cases where the provider is ordered by a court to provide specific information).
The Ferres doctrine states, in effect, that military leaders cannot be sued for actions which result in damages to a Soldier. If there was no Ferres Doctrine, how would you change the way you handle suicidal Soldiers? (for discussion).
To what lengths do you think Command should go to rehabilitate a formerly suicidal individual? At what point do you determine to “cut your losses” and get rid of the individual? (For discussion).
Scenario #7 – Deployed Female SSG
STRATEGIC QUESTIONS and ANSWERS: