Dealing With Suicide In The Military Research Paper

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Suicide: Combating Suicide through the Positive Psychological Effects of Resilience
Introduction

The Army’s Master Resilience Training (MRT) has been shown to be an effective tool for teaching leaders in the military about how to incorporate positive psychology in their engagement of and interactions with their soldiers (Reivich, Seligman & McBride, 2011). Positive psychology is important because it offers leaders a way to help out struggling soldiers, who may be suffering from some emotional or mental trauma that is pushing them towards self-harm. Suicide prevention is a real issue that many in the military issue have to face—and the use of MRT is one way to face it effectively. Positive psychology works by focusing on the strengths and virtues of ordinary people and assumes that people have something within themselves—some good potential—that they can tap into to use as an aid in overcoming challenges (Sheldon & King, 2001). This paper will show how Sergeants Major can use positive psychology and MRT specifically to overcome leadership challenges of suicide in their units.

How Stress Negatively Impacts Soldiers

Soldiers have to be strong, mentally, physically and emotionally. Stress can wear them out, however, by draining their mental energy, depleting their emotional reserves, and running their bodies into the ground physically. If the stress is particularly traumatic, it can overtake their minds to such an extent that they feel out of control of their actions and unable to stem rising tides of anger or to fight off thoughts of suicide (Kang et al., 2015). A suicidal soldier is one who is on the brink—one who needs to be pulled back from the edge by a leader with the capacity to empathize and act in a positive manner so that the soldier feels hope whereas before there was just despair (Vogt et al., 2017). Unless soldiers have a network of support or someone in their life who can help them to address their struggles, they will surely sink.

When struggling with suicide ideation, soldiers need a strong source of support, someone who can lead them the way Virgil led Dante out of the Inferno. That support must come from a fellow human being who understands what they are going through and can provide the soldier with a reason to stay strong and a vision of hope that he soldier can use to climb out of the pit of despair. Soldiers who are so stressed that they think about suicide are ones who are in deep need of positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2001). The development of positive emotions in a soldier’s life can be all the difference between a live soldier and a dead one.

How MRT Helps Leaders

MRT focuses on teaching the leader a range of competencies, including: 1) Self-awareness, 2) Self-regulation, 3) Optimism, 4) Mental Agility, 5) Strength of Character, and 6) Connection. The competencies allow the Sergeant Major to in turn use his own strengths to connect with his soldiers, bring them into his confidence, and provide them with the mental, social, emotional and even spiritual support they need to keep from sinking down into a terrible abyss from which they otherwise might never emerge. First, however, it starts with the Sergeant Major going through MRT to understand how to unlock his own potential.

Masters Sergeant have to...…and to get the soldier away from emphasizing and obsessing over all the negative things in his life.

If the leader lacks MRT, he will lack the subtle nuanced approach that this skill of connectivity requires (Griffith & West, 2013). The leader who has received MRT will be able to spot trouble areas ahead—what are called icebergs (little signals that protrude a bit above the surface but that indicate big problems below). These are typically deeply held beliefs that leaders often possess that are actually counter to what being a good leader is all about—ideas like, “It is my way or the highway” (Reivich et al., 2011). The leader needs to realize that a suicidal soldier is not going to be interested in anyone’s way. He wants to know why he doesn’t just jump off the highway all together and disappear forever. The Sergeant Major who thinks a gruff exterior is all it takes to snap people into line is mistaken. Troubled sergeants need a firm source of support—one who is willing to listen, not judge and offer a ray of positive light and positive thinking.

Conclusion

MRT is a great tool that Sergeants Major can use to help their soldiers through extremely stressful situations. Stress can really lead a soldier to experience deep down trauma that impacts the soldier’s ability to function or to stay positive. The soldier may even become suicidal. In these situations, the leader has to use positive psychology to help the soldier find a source of goodness that he can make his own and hold onto while he overcomes his personal issues.

References

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The…

Sources Used in Documents:

References

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American psychologist, 56(3), 218.

Griffith, J., & West, C. (2013). Master resilience training and its relationship to individual well-being and stress buffering among Army National Guard soldiers. The journal of behavioral health services & research, 40(2), 140-155.

Kang, H. K., Bullman, T. A., Smolenski, D. J., Skopp, N. A., Gahm, G. A., & Reger, M.A. (2015). Suicide risk among 1.3 million veterans who were on active duty during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Annals of epidemiology, 25(2), 96-100.

Reivich, K. J., Seligman, M. E., & McBride, S. (2011). Master resilience training in the US Army. American Psychologist, 66(1), 25.

Sheldon, K. M., & King, L. (2001). Why positive psychology is necessary. American Psychologist, 56(3), 216.

Vogt, D., Smith, B. N., Fox, A. B., Amoroso, T., Taverna, E., & Schnurr, P. P. (2017). Consequences of PTSD for the work and family quality of life of female and male US Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 52(3), 341-352.



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