The Minnesota Department of Health released its most recent suicide data in August, highlighting an increase in adult suicides. The statewide suicide statistics follow a national trend and the Minnesota National Guard is not exempt from this societal issue. Reported suicides in the Minnesota Army National Guard are the highest in the nation. As a result, we have developed robust suicide prevention efforts. Our Soldiers and Airmen are our most valuable resource and the well-being of our members is the top concern of Minnesota National Guard leaders.
The causes of suicide are difficult to define and different in each tragic case. The top issues relating to suicide in the Minnesota National Guard are consistent with those seen throughout society: employment, relationships, mental health, substance abuse and finances.
The Minnesota National Guard is working to address this problem. This past year, we documented 37 successful suicide interventions. We trained 247 members of our force as Suicide Intervention Officers using the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training model which prepares fellow service members to recognize individuals who are at risk. We also introduced a smartphone application as a tool for service members in distress.
This past year we conducted suicide stand-downs to address prevention efforts for each person in our organization and provided unit commanders with the tools to track at-risk service members. Additionally, four directors of psychological health are on call to provide expert assistance to soldiers and airmen.
Resilience training is a key component of our overall psychological health focus. By teaching coping skills to our service members, we will better prepare them to deal with the challenges and adversity they may face both in the military and in civilian life. In 2013, we trained 118 Master Resilience Trainers and 168 Resilience Training Assistants.
The Minnesota National Guard strives to increase community awareness about the societal issues of suicide in order to connect our service members and their families with local resources.