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United States Army
Basic Training Operating Instructions

Suicide Prevention

1.  Purpose: to provide specific guidance on suicide prevention for all personnel assigned to the company.

2.  Responsibilities.

            a.  The commander and first sergeant are overall responsible for the suicide prevention education within the company.

            b.  All privates are responsible for taking immediate action on any potential risk or attempt.

3.  Education.

            a.  All cadre will receive quarterly suicide prevention classes, given by the chaplain, community health services or the commander/first sergeant.

            b.  All IET privates and ROTC cadets will receive suicide prevention training at the beginning of the cycle in the commander’s inbrief and during the Chaplain’s inbrief.

4.  Suicide Procedure.  Follow these steps when a private is identified as a suicide risk or attempts suicide.

            a.  When a private has commited or attempted suicide:

                        (1)  Give First Aid and call Emergency Room at 624-9001/9002 or 624-0911.  Place the private on Line of Sight (LOS) and take away any items that may be used for suicide (i.e. shoelaces, belt).

                        (2)  Notify the first sergeant who will notify the company commander.  Once the commander is contacted, or if the company commander or first sergeant is not available, immediately contact the Battalion Commander or S3.  Suicides must be reported through the chain of command to TRADOC within two hours.

                        (3)  Notify the chaplain.

                        (4)  Call for appropriate medical/psychiatric support.  After establishing control for private and counseling in conjunction with proper medical/psychiatric support, then have a joint case study with first line leader, appropriate members of the chain of command, unit chaplain and medical/psychiatric staff to develop a problem solving plan.  The private will stay on LOS until he sees the Behavioral Medicine specialist and signs a “No harm” contract.

            b.  When a private is identified as suicide risk but has not attempted suicide:

                        (1)  Immediately notify the chain of command.  DO NOT leave the private alone since the attempt may take place immediately.  Report this to the battalion commander and document what has happened.

                        (2)  Place the private on Line of Sight (LOS) and take away any items that may be used for suicide (i.e. shoelaces, belt).  If the private is pulled from training, move him to a location where he can be more easily watched (CQ office).

                        (3)  Have the private seen by the unit, or duty, chaplain.

                        (4)  Coordinate with Community Mental Health for an evaluation or take to IACH Emergency Room for evaluation.  See Appendix 1 - USAARMC 3881 and Appendix 2 - Counseling.  The private will stay on LOS until he sees the Behavioral Medicine specialist and signs a “No harm” contract.

                        (5)  Conduct weekly follow up review of case until the commander determines that the immediate crisis is over.

                        (6)  Continue monitoring private for possible future recurrence.  If suicide risk occurs during the last two weeks of Basic Training, contact the private's AIT unit commander and inform him/her of the situation.

                        (7)  Line of Sight is defined as:  private is constantly supervised by an NCO, whether he is eating, sleeping, in training, on or off duty, or conducting personal hygiene and bodily functions.  Private is escorted by an NCO any time he leaves the company area.

5.  Suicide Prevention.  Get to know your soldiers.  The drill sergeants should tell the commander when a private may be going through a hard time.  Do not be afraid to ask a private, “Are you thinking of hurting yourself or anyone else?” whenever there is a potentially traumatic incident (UCMJ, “Dear John” letter, Newstart or ELS, problems adjusting).  No one ever killed himself because someone asked him that question -- if anything, it reassures the private because you care enough to ask him how he feels.

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Note: These Operating Instructions were derived from a set of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for a United States Army Infantry Basic Training Battalion. While SOPs might differ somewhat from batallion to batallion, it should give a basic idea of the instructions that Drill Sergeants and basic training staff members operate under.

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