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63 Suicide prevention in the finnish defence forces- training material for military leaders
  1. Antti-Jussi Ämmälä1,
  2. Tanja Laukkala2
  1. 1The Finnish Defence Forces, Logistics Command, Centre for Military Medicine
  2. 2Mehiläinen Kielotie, Vantaa, Finland


Background In Finland, military service is compulsory for young men, and approximately 75% of young men finish their military service. During military service, it is of utmost importance to support the well-being of conscripts. A national plan for providing safe environment1 emphasies the role of Defence Forces in the well-being of conscripts, also in the area of suicide prevention.

Objective Centre for Military Medicine has updated the training material for supporting the conscripts in stressful situations which aimed for all military leaders that work with conscripts. The material has also a self-help part for conscripts with detailed information on how to seek help if needed. One part of training material is aimed at recognising persons at elevated risk for suicide and self-harm. It also helps to form unified procedures for military units to handle these situations and strengthens cooperation between different disciplines. It serves in recognising needs for further education and aims to contribute to a more positive and constructive service atmosphere.

Results Training material consists of short presentation about different stressors affecting young men in military service followed by specific instructions to different types of stress situations, including how to recognise warning signs for suicide and self-harm. Followed by this, a short introduction is given about different short interventions available for entangling this risk. Major body of material is 15 case examples all with model answers which gives opportunity to practice jointly handling these situations. This creates possibility to strengthen cooperation and clarify responsibilities for each participant. The training material and its implementation is presented in presentation with additional discussion about implementation challenges and their possible solutions.

Conclusions The suicide mortality has decreased in general population2,3 and among conscripts.4 Early recognition and appropriate guidance to services is promoted effectively by making all disciplines aware of how to recognise the need of support in the mental health field and how to connect conscripts with available services.


  1. Markkula J, Öörni E. Eds. (2010). Providing a Safe Environment for Our Children and Young People Finland’s national action plan for injury prevention among children and youth. Helsinki University Print Helsinki, Finland.

  2. Suomen virallinen tilasto (Official statistics of Finland) (SVT). Kuolemansyyt vuonna 2013(siteerattu Suomen virallinen tilasto (SVT): Väestön ennakkotilasto [verkkojulkaisu]. ISSN=1798-8381. Helsinki: Tilastokeskus [viitattu: 30.10.2015]. Saantitapa:

  3. Holopainen J, Helama S, Partonen T. Suicide mortality changes in ageing Europe. Finnish Med J. 70:1983–1989

  4. Laukkala T, Henriksson M, Ponteva M. Varusmiespalvelus ja mielenterveys. The Finnish Med J. 68:1028–1029

  • Suicide prevention
  • education
  • military
  • young men

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