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G-1, Human Resources Policy Directorate

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

3 September 2008



How does one distinguish between malingerers and those Soldiers with bona fide mental health problems? (It is not possible to predict completed suicide at the individual level. One can only identify individuals who are at risk. Never assume that someone is malingering, even if their threats appear bogus.)


After speaking with this Soldier, he refuses to go to the Community Mental Health Service, the hospital, or the Chaplain’s office. What should you do next? (Remain calm; explore the Soldier’s fear of seeing a mental health professional; if he still refuses, you, you and another unit member, and/or military police must escort the Soldier to the nearest mental health care provider, whether that is a brigade asset, a Community Mental Health Service, or the hospital emergency room; do not leave the Soldier alone.)


This soldier, who lives off-post, fails to report for the morning formation. What should be done? (Make no assumptions. Try to telephone the Soldier. If the Soldier is married, try to contact his/her spouse. Talk with others to see if the Soldier discussed his/her plans with them If unable to reach the Soldier and/or his/her spouse telephonically, go to his/her house Notify your chain-of-command. Without disturbing the scene, look for other signs of possible intent: Is his/her automobile there?  Are electrical appliances turned on?  Discuss with your chain-of-command the necessity to contact civil authorities.)


This is the third or fourth time this Soldier has gone AWOL. Each time he/she returned a few days later. The current sequence of events seems to be falling in line with his/her typical way of reacting to pressure. How should you, as this Soldier’s leader, respond? (Even though the Soldier has a history of acting in a similar fashion, one cannot make assumptions. One must respond to this situation as if it were a true suicidal emergency. It is better to be safe than to be sorry. Also, people will frequently make several “gestures” before they finally kill themselves. This Soldier feels he/she has a problem for which there is no solution, and his/her repeated “gestures” are probably his/her best way to communicate their desperation. As a leader, your first step must be to ensure the Soldier’s safety. After that, you can assist them in formulating better solutions to their problems.)


After he/she fails to report for morning formation and fails to respond to telephone calls, you go to the Soldier’s house only to find him/her drunk and in his/her bed. During your conversation with the Soldier, he/she states that getting drunk is the only way he/she can avoid the “panic attacks”. What would be your best course of action? (While it would be easy to dismiss the Soldier’s complaints as “excuses”, one must leave diagnosis for the professionals. Since the Soldier is obviously intoxicated, you should report to your chain-of-command and escort the Soldier to the emergency room.)

Scenario #1 – Pre-deployment


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