I recall in Command General Staff College learning the importance of conducting mission analysis. In war, a strong understanding of unit capabilities, enemy capabilities, and the terrain are essential to winning on the battlefield. The same could be said of life in general; and such is very much the case in what we do at Armed Forces Mission (AFM).
In the month of November, AFM celebrated five years of serving the local community in a mission to eradicate suicide. As the name might imply, we are highly focused on the veteran population.
But in keeping with our creed as soldiers we are committed to the creed of “Serving the people of the United States of America.” We will leave no person behind on the battlefield of hopelessness.
We are thankful for the opportunity we have had to travel throughout the U.S. training more than 8,500 community caregivers and conducted more than 750 suicide interventions. However, we are cognizant of the incredible need right here on the home front of Coweta and Fayette County, Georgia.
Fayette County is ending the year stronger than we began. In the first six months of 2017 the suicide rate was double the national average. Thankfully, since the midpoint, we have seen a reduction and end the year in line with the national average at a total of 14 losses as of Nov. 28.
Since 2012 Fayette has been running 20 percent below the national average. In the same five-year period, Coweta County has mirrored the national average with 16 to 21 losses per year. In 2016, the 50 to 60 age range had the most losses representing 32 percent, followed by the 20 to 30 age group at 20 percent. Males took their lives three times more often than females and were most likely to use the most violent means possible.
The data clearly indicates an ongoing need for training in suicide intervention. In 2018 AFM will continue to expand such opportunities in Coweta and Fayette County. Intervention saves lives and those that are trained in basic intervention skills are the key to building a culture of health that is safer from the risk.
Given the opportunities that are available for training, there is no reason Coweta and Fayette should not be the strongest communities in the state, if not the nation, in terms of reduced risk of suicide.
We call upon the community to join us in this battle on the home front. AFM is now planning our training calendar for 2018. Schools, faith groups, law enforcement and others are encouraged to contact us today to schedule a training.
Let’s rally together to build a network of care within our community. Together, we can turn the tide on suicide and win this battle.
Kenneth Koon, D.Min,
Armed Forces Mission
Peachtree City, Ga.