DES MOINES, Iowa –
Suicide prevention training made a difference between a leader discounting a Soldier’s concerns as complaints and a successful intervention.
Capt. Louis Goldstein, commander, headquarters detachment, 389th Engineer Battalion, Dubuque, Iowa, and Nicole Hall, human resources specialist with the 389th, presented suicide prevention training to more than 65 noncommissioned officers with the 411th Engineer Vertical Construction Company here Oct. 21, 2022.
Goldstein recounted that within two hours of completion of the class, a Soldier newly assigned to the unit approached his squad leader and told him about the negative things that were happening in his life. He was having marital problems, had become disabled while on active duty and was unemployed. “He was essentially falling apart,” Goldstein said.
Staff Sgt. William Watters, a squad leader with the 411th, said he asked the Soldier directly if he was considering taking his own life. The Soldier confirmed those thoughts.
“I never would have asked if I hadn’t had the course. I have never been in a position to ask someone else if they were considering taking their life,” Watters said. “What if I just ask rather than just consider it just another bitch and gripe session by another Soldier?”
With that intervention the unit took the next important steps to ensure the Soldier got mental health counseling and other military and community support to resolve his problems.
“We often don’t know how to approach another Soldier. We have to put the pieces of the puzzle together and ask the right questions,” Goldstein said.