NOTE- This is a second of a three-part series on the same topic. You can read the first part at http://www.vamortgagecenter.com/blog/2013/01/01/software-to-predict-suicidal-tendacies-part-1/
While it will be the responsibility of the individual Commanders to do their job and not allow this technology to replace the basic tasks of their leadership position, the Commanders Risk Reduction Dashboard will hoped to work as a preventative measure to the drastic increase in Army suicides that we have seen over the past couple years. As Les McFarling, director of the Army Substance Abuse Program said
“We want to provide this information to get to the left of events, to start preventing rather than reacting.”
However to be honest I see this becoming a “crutch” for lazy Commanders to use and not have the face-to-face time they should have with their subordinates. I am all for technology when it can truly be a “force multiplier” and help with tasks in life, or even in intel gathering or fusion work. I don’t think this product (though well intended) can do what it says it can do accurately. What about the 1SG who has seen enough of his soldiers die that he can’t take it anymore and just gets out of his Humvee on a patrol and blows his brains out? Or the SSG who has had a exemplary career, is a model NCO but has one minor argument with his wife and that was enough for him to go down to his den or office and kill himself? These are cases I know about which would not have been “detected” by this tool.
Yes there is a HUGE suicide problem in our military and even though technology helps us out in a lot of areas of our life, it does not solve everything. When I worked for the largest Army R&D lab for two years as a contractor I used to tell the engineers all the time that technology does not solve every problem (and I am a technology guy). Sometimes people just need to step up and do their job. In the arena of countering the growing trend of suicides, that is exactly what needs to happen. Leaders and battle-buddies need to pay attention to their subordinates or fellow soldiers on an on-going basis and be aware of the signs.