Franklin James Cook

U.S. Army To Use Video Game To Prevent Suicide

In Prevention, Stigma on November 28, 2008 at 10:20 am

beyondthefront1ORIGINAL REPORT — The Christian Science Monitor reports on a new prevention tool the U.S. Army is using, which is basically a video game–called “Beyond the Front“–that dramatizes behavior that supports help-seeking by a soldier in distress, the fictional “Specialist Norton, a character in a kind of modern-day military morality play.”

In one scenario, Norton receives a “Dear John” letter, and then a roadside bomb kills a buddy, setting off a chain of events that require players to make decisions for the main character. Players who repeatedly choose to reach out to fellow soldiers and family members within the scenario get a happy ending. Players who opt -– in their character –- not to tell anyone about their problems will steer the game to a sad end.”

In the wake of a recent increase in suicides in the military, there has been a concerted response by the Army involving a number of educational and promotional activities for soldiers.

“One suicide is too many,” says Col. Thomas Languirand, chief of Command Policies and Programs Division for the Army … [The video] is just one “tool in the toolbox” for suicide prevention. Ultimately, [he says,] it’s not about videos or pocket cards or any other programs, but about educating soldiers to look out for each other.

A comprehensive overview of recent Army suicide data and mental health issues, by a Baltimore Sun reporter, was reprinted this summer in Global Research.

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