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G-1, Human Resources Policy Directorate

Supporting Soldiers, Families & Civilians – Active, Guard, Reserve and Retired

3 September 2008



What is the best way to deal with a suicidal Soldier who is not an imminent risk, that is a Soldier who is unlikely to harm him/herself or others within the next 24 hours? (Provide the Soldier with genuine care and support. Refer the Soldier to a mental health provider. Ensure that the Soldier cannot impulsively hurt him/herself by removing access to lethal means and maintaining the Soldier on unit watch until the crisis is over or until a mental health provider clears the Soldier to return to full duty status.)


How does one respond to this Soldier’s statement that: “I am useless to my family…my children would be better off if I were dead”. (Ask direct questions such as, “Do you mean that you are considering suicide as an option?” or “How long have you been thinking of suicide?”)


You are attempting to demonstrate that you truly care about the SSG. You say, “I know its tough right now, but this crisis is going to pass, and you will eventually feel better. Let’s talk some more about this tomorrow”.  Is there anything wrong with this approach? (First of all, the SSG may get the feeling that you really do not understand her plight. She may feel that you are impatient or uncaring and do not have more time to spend with her. She may feel as if her problems are being dismissed as being unimportant. Many people commit suicide because they see no other way to solve their problems. There is nothing to prevent the SSG from hurting herself once you finish talking. “Tomorrow” holds no meaning to someone who is intent upon killing themselves. Any reassurance should take the form of, “I know some people who can help you with your problems, and I’m going to see that you get a chance to speak with them as soon as possible.”)


When asked, this SSG cannot promise you that she will not harm herself before morning, when she is to consult with a mental health provider. What should you do? (Escort the Soldier to a mental health provider or a treatment facility with an emergency room).


Why is it important to ask a potentially suicidal person about their plan to harm themselves? (You need to know something about the plan so you can remove any potentially lethal items from the environment. For instance, if a Soldier states he plans to shoot himself, his weapon should be confiscated.)

Scenario #7 – Deployed Female SSG


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