Camp Shelby soldiers star in a movie to save lives

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Suicide rates in the military have been rising for the past six years, but folks at Camp Shelby are trying an inventive new method to combat that trend. They've made a video.  With the base as their stage, and the soldiers as actors, they're considering it a success.

Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg has taken the U.S. Army's mandatory suicide awareness training into their own hands.

"Everyone was a little bit nervous. We're soldiers by trade, so we're not starring in our first Hollywood debut," said Major Deidre Musgrave, Camp Shelby public affairs officer.

Soldiers from the base star in the 23 minute video they have produced; an attempt to make suicide a subject to talk about, rather than one that is taboo.

"You can see training videos all day long - it's getting the information out.  But when you put a home base, or a hometown touch to it," said Staff Sergeant Jeannie Whaley. "They start paying more attention,"

The movie is geared toward soldiers specifically, and the problems they can sometimes have to deal with all at once.  Problems at home, being a parent, a new marriage, the stress of leaving home suddenly, and the pressures of being a soldier away from home.

At some moment in the video staff say soldiers laugh at a little bit because they may recognize an officer playing a character, but the staff say that's a good sign - it means they're paying attention.

Suicide among soldiers has been rising for the last six years. A study from the Center for a New American Security said that between 2005 and 2010, an American service member took his or her own life every 36 hours.

"We've had to assist a soldier and the person that was their battle buddy, the friend that went to the hospital with them said 'We did it right sarge, we did it right,' said Whaley.  "And I said 'well good that's great, well what are you talking about, what did you do right?' And they said, 'we saw the video so we knew what we had to do."

One of four major army bases in the country where troops deploy overseas from, and arrive home to, Camp Shelby - and the video they've made - are uniquely poised to make an impact.