The Defense Department is now offering two online courses that provide support and guidance for those affected by suicide.
"The first course is for everyone, but particularly for those more directly affected," said Lisa Valentine, program manager for Military OneSource's casualty, mortuary affairs and military funeral honors office. The course, "After a Suicide," is about 45 minutes long and can be accessed here.
The course covers communication techniques, ways to connect or stay connected to a support system, and reminders for how to maintain physical and mental health during this difficult time, she said, adding that "in the aftermath of a suicide, you may experience a wide range of complex emotions and may need to learn new ways of caring for yourself and others."
"The weight of a death by suicide is felt far and wide," said Valentine. "Those exposed to a suicide death are not immune to the death's impacts."
Valentine noted that, on average, each death by suicide affects about 135 others.
"If you are a service member and you lost one of your fellow comrades to suicide, we would highly recommend that you take this course. It's very, very helpful," she said.
For service providers, there's a second course, "After a Suicide – Walking Through Providing Support," which lasts about two hours. It can be found here.
"Besides chaplains and family support personnel, military leaders and supervisors at all levels would greatly benefit from taking this course," she said.
"This course goes into depth, explaining about the complicated feelings and emotions, including survivor guilt, that someone who experienced a suicide loss may experience, and providing self-care suggestions."
"Service providers are not immune from the effects of a death by suicide," added Andrew Moon, the acting director for research, evaluation, and data/surveillance for the defense suicide prevention office.
"This course will help you gain a greater awareness of the complicated nature of suicide and establish a rapport with suicide loss survivors. It also offers tools to help protect against the heavy impact of a suicide death," he said.
"Data tell us that suicide rates continue to rise across the nation, and those in the military and military community are not immune to those trends," he said.
"In spite of these trends and reminders that suicide is a growing public health issue, there is still not enough focus of the impact that these deaths have on suicide loss survivors," he said.
"Research has shown that suicide survivors are at a greater risk for anxiety-related disorders, post-traumatic stress, complicated grief, depression and suicide," he mentioned.
Military OneSource: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/
Defense Suicide Prevention Office: http://www.dspo.mil/
Suicide Bereavement in Veterans and Military Families: https://msrc.fsu.edu/funded-research/suicide-bereavement
Article about Veterans Affairs health and suicide toolkit: https://news.va.gov/58631/va-releases-mental-health-and-suicide-prevention-toolkit-for-former-guard-and-reserve-members/
Suicide Prevention ─ The Essentials: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness/mental-health/suicide/suicide-prevention-the-essentials/
Tools for Parenting After Suicide: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/family-relationships/gold-star-surviving-family/understanding-grief/tools-for-parenting-after-suicide/