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.

Overcoming Adversity

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In late 2018, Master Sgt. Stephanie Baker’s world was turned upside down. Up until that point, she felt as if she was “living the dream.” She was recently retired from being an active duty Airman. She was married to another retired Airman, had two amazing kids and had begun a new chapter with the Air National Guard in Alabama. The transition, though, to civilian life had been emotionally and financially difficult for her and her husband. Shortly after returning home from a family vacation, Baker’s husband asked for a divorce – a move Baker says she didn’t see coming.

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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

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From Around the Web

 SA Actions Help Save Airman's Life
A Command Chief's Road to Recovery
Seeking the Military Suicide Solution Podcast Ep. 9
Peer Counseling Helpful for Veterans
Nat Intrepid Ctr for Excellence: Training on First Line TBI Assesment Tool
AFMC Launches Holistic Resiliency
 

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

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