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Army creates new scenario-based suicide-prevention video

WASHINGTON — In an effort to re-vamp the Army’s suicide-prevention program, a new scenario-based video has been created to supplement the growing arsenal of training aides to prevent suicide.

“The Home Front,” which has not yet been officially released, will feature six scenarios that focus on difficulties Soldiers face both at war and at home. It is a sequel to last year’s “Beyond the Front,” and a third video is planned for next year.

Both videos are the product of a behavioral health research partnership between Lincoln University and the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force.

Madeline Swann, the Army’s liaison with Lincoln University, said working on the videos has been one of her greatest achievements.

“This has been the most important work that I’ve done in my career,” Ms. Swann said. “I can see a direct effect on how I’m helping Soldiers.”

Swann explained how she’s had Soldiers tell her how “Beyond the Front” educated them on how to help a Soldier in need — and the training worked.

“If I can save the life of at least one Soldier, then that’s my career,” she said.

MSG Marshall Bradshaw, the suicide prevention program manager for the National Guard and only enlisted Soldier involved in developing the videos’ scenarios, explained how “The Home Front” also highlights reserve-component Soldiers.

He said that when brainstorming scenarios for the second video, the National Guard asked for a scenario that represented their population.

“A significant number of our suicides are committed by Soldiers who are in transition,” MSG Bradshaw said.

These transitions include moving to a new duty location or coming off of active duty and returning to civilian life. MSG Bradshaw said one scenario in the new video features a Guard Soldier in this transitional phase.

Other scenarios include the viewpoint of a parent of a suicidal child, the viewpoint of a squad leader and the viewpoint of a Department of the Army civilian employee.

“To me, this project is one of the most important we are doing,” MSG Bradshaw said. “It allows people to practice what they would be doing in real life.”

MSG Bradshaw said some of the top stressors in Soldiers’ lives that may lead to suicide are the breakdown of relationships, troubled finances, loss of jobs and legal issues.

He said that if a serious legal issue risks a Soldier’s career, that Soldier may feel like all reason for living is being lost.

“Most Soldiers love being Soldiers ... and when that’s threatened, it really threatens their identity,” MSG Bradshaw said.

Unlike “Beyond the Front,” “The Home Front” will not be a mandatory training aide, simply an addition to commanders’ already-established suicide-prevention programs.

The new video may also be shown in conjunction with “Shoulder to Shoulder: I will never quit on life,” a film released in July featuring candid stories of real Soldiers.

An Armywide release date has not yet been announced for “The Home Front.”