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Video seen as Army suicide prevention tool

Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Nov 26, 2008
The U.S. Army, as part of its suicide prevention program, is using an interactive video to encourage soldiers to seek help to cope with war-related stress.

The Army, which has seen suicides among soldiers climb 46 percent since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, is conducting training that includes distributing "buddy cards" to alert soldiers to problems among their friends and an interactive game called "Beyond the Front," starring fictitious Spc. Kyle Norton, to encourage soldiers to seek medical help faster, The Christian Science Monitor reported Wednesday.

The service plans to send out thousands of copies of the game -- part of an Army suicide prevention program costing almost $1 million -- to educate soldiers about the dangers of not seeking help when they most need it, the Monitor said.

"People are drawn into it, they see themselves because (the situations) are very realistic," says Sharon Sloane, president and chief executive of WILL Interactive, which produced "Beyond the Front."

Sloane told the Monitor the video provide soldiers "an opportunity to play it out before you live it out."

"One suicide is too many," said Col. Thomas Languirand, chief of Command Policies and Programs Division for the Army. He says the Army isn't sure yet how exactly how "Beyond the Front" fits into its plan, commenting that it's one "tool in the toolbox" for suicide prevention.

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