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Fort Bliss General Retracts Statement Saying Soldiers Who Commit Suicide Commit ‘Selfish’ Act

Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, Commanding General of Fort Bliss, has responded to national criticism by various people and organizations nationally for his comments about soldiers who commit suicide.

Several websites posted a few sentences from Pittard’s January Fort Bliss Monitor column when he talked about soldiers and suicide.

“I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act. I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us,” he wrote in the column. (Editor’s Note: Read the full paragraph Pittard wrote in January at the bottom of this article)

A Fort Bliss spokesman said Pittard did not face any disciplinary action for the comment. The comment could not be found in the online edition of that January issue on Wednesday morning.

Pittard issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon to ABC-7: On Suicide – A Retraction – In my commentary published January 19, 2012, I stated suicide was a selfish act. Thanks to many of you and your feedback, I have learned that this was a hurtful statement. I also realize that my statement was not in line with the Army’s guidance regarding sensitivity to suicide. With my deepest sincerity and respect towards those whom I have offended, I retract that statement.

There are many reasons why a person may take his or her own life; it is very complex. Suicide is a serious problem, not only in our Army, but throughout our entire nation. Our efforts to prevent suicide at Fort Bliss are having a beneficial effect. We have lower than average suicide rates within FORSCOM. We have more than four times the number of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) personnel than other Army installation, the most Master Resilience Trainers, 160 behavioral health providers, and inspiring stories every month of Soldiers who intervened when one of their battle buddies had suicidal ideations or attempts. Our Wellness Fusion Campus is unique within the Army and is the cornerstone of a deliberate, programmed and accountable installation-wide resilience campaign. Our goal is to create the most fit, healthy, and resilient community in America.

We must continue to do better each and every day, reaching out, encouraging and helping those in need. A person sometimes considers suicide when they lose hope about the future and they do not feel connected with others around them – a profound sense of hopelessness. We can all help by wrapping our arms around our fellow Soldiers and showing them a future that is positive and supportive. This takes both leadership and compassion. Leaders at all levels must continue with the intrusive, yet caring and compassionate, leadership that has become a part of our culture at Team Bliss. Battle buddies and leaders must stay vigilant and act when someone is in need. None of us are immune from needing help. All of us, at some point, need help for mental, emotional, or relationship stress. Please seek help – it is the right thing to do!

-24-hour Chaplain: 915-637-4265

-Team Bliss Operations Center: 915-744-1255

-Emergence Crisis Hotline: 915-779-1800

-National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Pittard’s full, original paragraph in the January column stated: Suicide ? A Selfish Act – Wednesday (January 18), we lost a Fort Bliss Soldier to an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. I heard the tragic news as I walked out of a memorial service for another one of our Soldiers who decided to kill himself at home on Christmas Day so that his family would find him. Christmas will never be the same for his two young daughters he left behind. I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act.Soldiers who commit suicide leave their families, their buddies and their units to literally clean up their mess. There is nothing noble about suicide. I care about each and every one of our Soldiers, family members and civilians at Fort Bliss. I know there are a lot of people hurting out there, especially with the future Army personnel cuts on the horizon. If you are hurting mentally or emotionally, then seek and get help; but don?t resort to taking your own life. I am personally fed up with Soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us.SEEK HELP! If you need help, please call 915-779-1800 or 800-273-TALK (8255). It is a confidential call. Please look after each other; please do not allow your buddy to make a rash decision that will have permanent life-ending consequences. Choose life.

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