ISS4 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 43 of 63

"In the Reserve, you can't really see what's going on with people in between drills," said Woods. "You may say, 'Hi, how you doing?' and make small talk, but then you're getting underway, so you can't really feel them out. No one is going to jump in and start talking about their problems just because you say good morning." Not to mention that leaders, like Trujillo-Daza, may camouflage their problems well. "He was also of the type that didn't give out obvious clues," said Pierce. "Some people will let you know about their suicide ideation or come out and say 'I'm going to commit suicide.' High performers like him aren't going to let you know that." Because of these and other limitations, researchers advocate for a model of prevention for reservists that encourages early intervention to eliminate the causes of factors that historically result in suicide. "I think we have to look at prevention from more of a community perspective, which we do a horrible job of in the U.S.," said Bryan. "We've tended to . . . teach what warning signs to look for, what questions to ask, and, when there is a problem, who to call. What needs to happen is we need to move away from that model to one that's focused on a day- to-day basis of maintaining health overall and not wait until we are in a crisis." Maffucci agreed. "There are a host of risk factors," he said. "In over half of the cases of suicide, there is a mental health issue or illness there . . . but it could also be a build-up of a number of things—dealing with chronic pain, your spouse just left you, or your finances are problematic. And that's the tough thing about suicide—it builds up over time. So we need to try and figure out the triggers early and get that trouble handled—refer someone to financial counseling or relationship counseling, for instance." Gaps in staffing have hampered continuity in prevention efforts, said Wright-Williams, including thinking about strategies and programs tailored for Reserve members. New to the position, she is now capitalizing on up-to-date research and data, including that shared by Department of Defense counterparts. She has already stood up a Suicide Prevention Charter Group that is at "the ground level now." Until a new, holistic, perhaps Reserve-specific, suicide prevention training and policy is rolled out, experts and enlisted personnel agree that communication is the best preliminary way that commands and peers can identify potential risk factors and locate that early help to remedy them. "Leaders should check in constantly," recommended Wright-Williams. "Send emails or reach out between drills— ask people how they're doing, what's going on." But Maffucci cautions that efforts need to be frank and sincere. "Part of it is leading by example," he said. "The more leaders talk about this, especially the leaders right in front of you . . . , the more you'll be saying it's okay to ask and receive help." Crane, Pierce and Woods still puzzle about how they could have gotten help for their friend and shipmate Trujillo- Daza. They knew he was mourning his mother, who died of cancer; that he had concerns about his career. "We just didn't put the puzzle all together," said Pierce. "It's up to us members to keep our eyes open and to keep talking to each other. We all need to talk." � 42 RESERVIST � Issue 4 • 2017

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reservist - ISS4 2017