NOTE- This is the third 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/
You can read the second part at
Leaders need to get back to the tenants of BE-KNOW-DO that we used to follow in the Army and KNOW their men (and women). They need to know them on duty, off duty, all the time. Not just at formation or in the motor pool, but stay aware and concerned. I don’t mean pry into someone’s personal life but just be aware. That is another weakness of this Dashboard. The complexities of the human psyche, attitudes, morals, values, beliefs, stressors, etc. cannot be summed up to a commander in graphs, charts and bubbles. A soldier having been in trouble is not an obvious sign of a suicide threat. It is a sign of a soldier who got in trouble and who hopefully can be shown the error of his or her ways and then learn from that mistake. I have known plenty of soldiers in my 22 years, to include myself, who got into trouble. I never once thought that them or myself was at more risk of suicide because of violating the UCMJ. Our soldiers are not that weak-minded, and in fact I consider that a insult to our courageous young warriors to assume such a thing.
I know in today’s world of instant gratification and everyone having to have an answer to every problem that people think we can “tool” a way to anaylze and predict potential behavior, but it just isn’t that easy. KUDOS to the Army for trying to develop a software program to do this but I don’t feel it is the answer. Could it predict some potential suicide threats? Sure I guess it probably could, but so could the individual leader if they were trained on what to look for, paid attention to their subordinates and peers and then felt confident and empowered to act and notify.
Our leaders and soldiers of today don’t need cards on their dog-tags with cool acronyms like A-C-E or even a software tool. They need to do what has worked for years and that is human caring, concern and action. There is example after example happening all the time of leaders taking notice and taking action which have stopped suicides from happening. I was personally involved in one of these actions in 1994 (one of several times where I intervened on someone considering or trying suicide). It worked back then, it worked before then, and it works today.
Technology is great, it keeps me employed and has made a lot of our lives easier, but it can not fix everything. Soldiers need soldiers who care, not software.