My GECU

Stopping suicide: Soldiers share what worked

Brig. Gen. Mark Landes, left, deputy commanding general, support, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, presents Cpl. William Bickel, right, an infantryman assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, with a certificate of achievement at 1st Armored Division headquarters Friday. Bickel saved a Soldier from suicide in January. Photos by Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor.

Brig. Gen. Mark Landes, left, deputy commanding general, support, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, presents Cpl. William Bickel, right, an infantryman assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, with a certificate of achievement at 1st Armored Division headquarters Friday. Bickel saved a Soldier from suicide in January. Photos by Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor.

By Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor:

(El Paso, Texas, May. 18, 2017) Two corporals who saved fellow Soldiers from suicide shared what worked for them after receiving certificates of achievement during a Community Health Promotion Council Executive Committee meeting at 1st Armored Division headquarters Friday.

Although they encountered different situations, the corporals said in interviews that their ability to respond effectively came down to one word: training.

“I automatically knew what to do,” said Cpl. Joaquin Irigoyen, a medical laboratory specialist assigned to the 440th Medical Detachment (Blood Support), 31st Combat Support Hospital. “I didn’t really panic. I kind of had it ingrained in me that this is what I have to do.”

Irigoyen was on CQ duty in January when a Soldier called and said he was having suicidal thoughts. He told the Soldier to stay on the line, but the Soldier hung up on him, and in the short amount of time it took Irigoyen to arrive at his room, the Soldier had cut himself.

His suicide prevention training kicked in right away, Irigoyen said.

Brig. Gen. Mark Landes, left, deputy commanding general, support, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, presents Cpl. Joaquin Irigoyen, center, a medical laboratory specialist assigned to the 440th Medical Detachment (Blood Support), 31st Combat Support Hospital, with a certificate of achievement at 1st Armored Division headquarters Friday. Irigoyen saved a Soldier from suicide in January.

Brig. Gen. Mark Landes, left, deputy commanding general, support, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, presents Cpl. Joaquin Irigoyen, center, a medical laboratory specialist assigned to the 440th Medical Detachment (Blood Support), 31st Combat Support Hospital, with a certificate of achievement at 1st Armored Division headquarters Friday. Irigoyen saved a Soldier from suicide in January.

“‘I have to make sure that he’s OK, make sure he gets help (and) everything he needs,’” Irigoyen said he was thinking at the time. He followed all the procedures he had learned and successfully saved the Soldier.

Irigoyen shared this advice: “If you can, try to prevent it before anything really serious happens, but if it does happen, just be ready. We get training for this.”

Cpl. William Bickel, an infantryman assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, said he stepped in to help a Soldier after talking to him over the phone in January and realizing he was despondent over a series of difficulties.

“Instead of letting that Soldier go, I went ahead and told him to hold tight – I was going to be there – and when I went over there, I informed him that I was going to help him seek the help that he actually needed and we got him the help that he deserved,” Bickel said.

Bickel said his unit receives quarterly suicide prevention training and monthly information on how to recognize when Soldiers need help, and the training was invaluable.

“Make sure you pay attention to your fellow Soldiers and anyone around you,” Bickel said he advises Soldiers. “Make sure that you notice if anything’s off. That way you can pull them aside and talk to them and see that they actually need the help.”

Kyrashia Levy, manager of the Fort Bliss Suicide Prevention Program, said the actions of Bickel and Irigoyen exemplified the ACE, or ask, care, escort, training Soldiers receive to prevent suicide.

Brig. Gen. Mark Landes, deputy commanding general, support, 1st AD and Fort Bliss, presented Bickel and Irigoyen with certificates of achievement signed by Maj. Gen. Pat White, commanding general, 1st AD and Fort Bliss, and praised them for their actions.

“These are exactly the frontline leaders who are going to make these saves,” Landes said. “How we empower them and how we educate them to make sure they can recognize (what they need to do to save Soldiers) – that’s what’s key.”

Landes said he appreciates their effort.

“You did exactly what we needed you to do,” Landes said. “I couldn’t be more proud of you and the fact that you were able to do it.”

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Posted by on May 17 2017. Filed under Unit News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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