I never knew suicide prevention could be such a joke until I joined the Army. The troops are treated to the finest of death-by-PowerPoint presentations on suicide annually, bi-annually, whenever someone kills themselves, or whenever the sign-in roster is lost or incomplete. The Green Weenie must always cover its ass. The slides seem to be passed down from generation to generation, none of whom have figured out that red type looks like shit on a black background. Anyway, the presenter of said PowerPoint usually discovers their role minutes before the presentation. This reading is done by a young black NCO in the medical section. He tries to read us all of the slides on suicide myths and truths (the truths are in red: invisible), about how 80% of suicides have an accompanying note and plenty of other accompanying statistics.
Look for warning signs in your soldiers. If someone who is always happy isn’t talking at all, ask them about it. Be wary if someone voices intent to rid themselves of all their belongings. All basic human shit that many non-sociopaths have likely considered.
Also, if you want to kill yourself talk to somebody—so that you can begin the descent to your career’s end through a few hundred flaming hoops. Gotta get rid of you before you follow through with it right? Lower those statistics.
That last part wasn’t in the slide, just useful information. Hard to come by that kind of stuff from authority.
The PowerPoint ends with at least half of the soldiers still awake. And then it happens. A classic old Army white guy takes the floor and silences the room. He flails his arms as part of his prophetic sermon and is three times louder than the official presentation we just received.
“Look,” he says “all this shit you’re worried about now in your twenties or whatever won’t be anything but a speed bump when you get to be old like me.”
“The stuff you think is important now, you won’t even remember,” he continues.
I start to wonder if he’s ever considered suicide, but then feel dumb because it’s obvious that he hasn’t. Neither I, nor my friend Kline sitting next to me are impressed with homeboy’s lily white, all things centered on himself opinion on what everyone’s life is and will be like once they become him. Should we aspire to become him, and naturally we all can, if we work hard enough. As a matter of fact, we must. To have that level of confidence and knowing should be reserved for supreme beings; enlightened ones.
He went on casually berating the crowd for a few minutes, providing me with a few light chuckles. It reminded me of how I talk to my children when they get sad because there aren’t any more bananas, or the oatmeal is taking too long to cool down. Will they opt for suicide the next time I refuse to give them candy before dinner? They were pretty quiet last weekend. I just have so much to think about now…