Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, USA may not be snuggly-huggly - but he is spot on.
“I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act,” he wrote on his official blog recently. “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.”Of course, now the Harpies of Compassion have come down on him.
The posting was subsequently scrubbed from the Fort Bliss website, ... Pittard is expected to formally retract his comments later this week, but suicide-prevention experts believe that Pittard’s blog posting has already conveyed precisely the wrong message to emotionally-fragile troops.Don't think MG Pittard doesn't "get it" - he does.
“Soldiers who are thinking about suicide can’t do what the general says: They can’t suck it up, they can’t let it go, they can’t just move on,” said Barbara Van Dahlen, the founder of Give an Hour, an organization that matches troops with civilian mental-health providers. “They’re not acting out of selfishness; they’re acting because they believe they’ve become a burden to their loved ones and can only relieve that burden by taking their own lives.”
Pittard, for his part, is far more devoted to suicide prevention than his comments might suggest. Fort Bliss – which houses roughly 40,000 troops, 40,000 military family members, and 13,000 other civilians in Texas and New Mexico – has an unusually large staff of 160 psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental-health professionals.Maybe MG Pittard has been thinking and living this long enough that he has come to see what is the core nature of suicide. Perhaps he has had a moment of clarity.
At Pittard’s direction, the base has also constructed a “Wellness Fusion Campus” designed to provide education on resilience, suicide prevention, and spotting signs of depression or other mood disorders in one’s self or fellow troops. So far this year, two troops from the base have killed themselves, putting Fort Bliss roughly on pace to match the six who took their own lives last year. In 2010, five troops from the base killed themselves there.
“I was stunned when I heard about the controversy [over Pittard’s comments],” said Lt. Col. Leonard Gruppo, who runs the new center. “General Pittard is the most aggressive, most visionary, and most innovative installation commander in the Army when it comes to mental health and suicide prevention.”
I had mine years ago and stand firm in this: with very rare exceptions that deal with sacrifice for others or incurable physical pain; a person who kills themselves is not worthy of pity or understanding - save both for the loved ones they leave behind; they are the ones who need your care.
MG Pittard - do what you need to do to call off the Harpies of Compassion, but know this - you are not alone, and you are correct.