Suicide and interpersonal violence are serious issues that require comprehensive, seamless prevention, intervention, and postvention responses from exceptional leaders. In order to support readiness and build a more lethal force, leaders must foster and promote resilience among their Airmen. Leaders should familiarize themselves with available resiliency tools and resources to prevent and respond to crisis such as suicide or sexual assault.

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas

“I found a leader I could trust,” says Maj. Chris Harmer, as he recounts how fellow Wingmen helped him find the support to overcome his invisible wounds. 

Harmer left an abusive childhood home and joined the Air Force in 2004 to be part of something larger than himself. “All felt right in life,” recalls Harmer, along with his wife of 16 years, Shelley. 

Then the symptoms began.  Continue reading

Arlington, VA

 

When searching the internet for information about home safety, there are numerous government agencies and nonprofit organizations dedicated to reducing accidental injuries and deaths. Yet, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 167,000 people died and more than 20 million were injured in the United States in 2018 from unintentional means or accidents, many of which occurred at home.

Continue Reading

 

Multimedia

Air University production about suicide prevention during COVID-19.
Vincent Howard talks about optimism during A Moment of Resilience
Maj. Corey Carnes talks about the coach, the cheerleader and the teammate.
SMSgt Sarah Cornelius (Lakland AFB) faced mental health issues after the unexpected loss of her Navy brother.

Ask*Care*Escort

If you have identified an airman that may be considering suicide, it’s important to Ask your Wingman directly about what’s going on. This will help you determine what needs to be done next. Ask about issues early rather than waiting for things to escalate to the point of crisis. Take all comments about suicide seriously. Be an active listener and let your Wingman tell you about their challenges. Although it can be awkward, it’s important to ask the tough questions about whether or not your Wingman is thinking about harming or killing himself. If the answer is yes, or if you even suspect that the answer is yes, don’t leave the person alone.

Care for your Wingman by calmly listening and expressing concern. Don’t be judgmental or promise secrecy. If your Wingman is having thoughts of suicide, you need to act. Remove anything he could use to hurt himself and immediately seek help.

The final step is to Escort your Wingman immediately to the nearest emergency room, Mental Health Clinic, chaplain, or primary care clinic, and contact the supervisor or chain of command. If a distressed Airman refuses help or you're not sure what to do, call your supervisor or 911 for help. Never leave an Airman who is having thoughts of suicide alone, even to go to the bathroom.

Ask Your

Wingman

  • Have the courage to ask the question, but stay calm
  • Ask the question directly: Are you thinking of killing yourself? 
  • And, do you have access to a firearm?

Care For Your

Wingman

  • Calmly control the situation; do not use force; be safe
  • Actively listen to show under­standing and produce relief
  • Remove any means that could be used for self-injury

Escort Your

Wingman

  • Never leave your buddy alone

COVID-19 Resources

National Resource Directory courtesy of NRD.gov

From Around the Web

Air Force Using Firearm Locks to Promote Home Safety, Reduce Self-Harm
Mental Health Benefits of Physical Fitness
Seeking the Military Suicide Solution Podcast
SAPR: 15 years of serving sexual assault survivors
COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub
 

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Additional Resources

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The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external Web site, or the information, products or services contained therein.