DARIEN, Ill. –
The 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) hosted the Suicide Prevention Program Liaison (SPPL) training from March 1-4, 2022, at the Parkhurst Army Reserve Center.
The 416th TEC Suicide Prevention Program Manager, Dr. Jennifer Prince, organized and implemented the program, offering more opportunities for the 10,500 Soldiers across the 26-state footprint to get help when they need it.
Liaisons are trained to be better equipped to intervene if they see a Soldier who might be having suicidal ideations. “From 2020 to 2021, our suicidal ideations and attempts doubled,” said Prince. She decided she wanted to do something different for the 416th TEC to reduce those numbers and have more people trained in the field who can have eyes and ears on these Soldiers and support when needed.
Twenty-six students were trained in five key areas throughout the training week. The SPPL course holds up to 30 students. Prince said she projects there will be between 110 and 120 liaisons trained by year’s end.
To help teach the program, eight facilitators joined the effort as a core training team. Five Civilian Suicide Prevention Program Managers and three Soldiers from other U.S. Army Reserve Commands facilitated the training.
“The feedback has been that they're learning a lot and they're gaining a new skill set. They can go back to their commands and teach some of the modules and train Soldiers in their down-trace units,” said Prince.
A module taught during the SPPL training, “Engage,” is bystander intervention training. The R2 Performance Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, trains personnel to become facilitators for this course.
Capt. Louis Goldstein, 389th Engineer Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander and plans officer, out of Dubuque, Iowa, led the two-hour module training to teach students to be more aware and mindful on intervening when they identify someone who might have ideations.
The module challenges students on how to think about their attitudes toward things that might be abnormal. “If you see something, are you going to say something?” asked Goldstein. “Are you going to keep walking, because you're busy?”
Engage is training that's geared toward getting the force out there to be aware of what's going on around them. It is intended to make Soldiers more aware of different signs of emotional intelligence to help their battle buddies work through whatever issues they have, or just be more aware, or try to find ways to help.
“In a situation where they're aware of it, they’ll find the responsibility. And their plan is anything that's direct or indirect, but it just is enough of an action of their engagement to possibly move that the outcome of that situation into a more positive realm,”
Goldstein said this was the first time he has ever trained this course, but he brought years of suicide training experience prior to becoming an Active Guard/Reserve Soldier. Before his Army career, he worked for the Wounded Warrior Project for seven years teaching suicide intervention and coordinating events in the Midwest area.
“This is a passion of mine; this is a world that I love being a part of and I've lost too many friends to suicide. I was tired of going to the funerals.”
Goldstein believes in leveraging any opportunity to get involved in programs for suicide intervention, prevention, or awareness.
“I'm all in on it,” he said.” This is training and information that, if it's going to change or have the opportunity to save one person's life or be a positive impact in one person's life, that's all I'm looking for.”
For more information on the SPPL program, call 719-366-8034. If a Soldier is having a suicidal crisis, please connect them to the Veterans Crisis Line/National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 for Veterans Crisis Line), or text 838255, for free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.