Fort Sill,Ok_ Fort Sill soldiers put aside their usual duties Thursday, so they could focus on suicide prevention. It was a part of the Army's service-wide "Stand Down" day that teaches soldiers the warning signs for suicide and how to help a comrade in need.
In a time of war, soldiers are told not to leave their battle buddies behind. Thursday, Fort Sill expanded that message to include the many soldiers who've taken their own lives.
"The reason why people kill themselves is because they're feeling helpless, because they're feeling hopeless, because they're feeling worthless," said Jay Khalifeh, Army Substance Abuse Program Manager.
Last year, more than 150 soldiers took their own lives. In fact, the suicide rate in the Army was so high it exceeded the civilian population's rate.
But it's not just the battlefield that triggers these suicides. The soldiers may be stressed out from problems at home, financial issues and even pending disciplinary action.
"Any event can be a trigger, but it's not the event itself that's the trigger. It's the thoughts," Sgt. John Peterson said.
Army officials say if a soldier thinks a comrade is considering committing suicide, he should follow the ACE method. First, ask the person if they are thinking about killing themselves.
Then, care for them by removing weapons or pills out of their way. Finally, escort them to a health professional so they can get the help they need.
"We're all in this together whether we're military or civilian. We need to be looking out for our brothers and sisters and keep them safe. Especially when we know something is awry," Khalifeh said.
Some of the warning signs for suicide include: a sudden change in mood, alcohol or drug abuse and isolation.
"People, a lot of times, all they need to know is that somebody cares to keep them alive," Khalifeh said.