Leading high-risk Airmen can be difficult, and the next step may not always be clear. These tools are intended to help Leaders detect and navigate through a crisis.

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

Warning Signs for suicide are different than Risk Factors. They are more observable, and should be responded to immediately. A common theme for Warning Signs is change. This is why friends, relatives, and coworkers are critical in detecting early Warning Signs of distress.

Many people who are at risk for suicide show changes in their mood such as hopelessness, depression, or anxiety. Other emotional and behavioral changes include agitation, anger, or irritability.

Changes in daily activities, for example changes in appetite or sleep, can be Warning Signs. These can include eating or sleeping significantly more or less than usual. Unusual or sudden changes in behavior, isolation, withdrawal, a loss of interest in work, or change in work performance are also Warning Signs. Even a positive mood change can be a Warning Sign if someone has been down for a while. It’s important to ask about the reasons behind the change.

And, finally, one very important Warning Sign is talking or communicating about death or suicide. All Airmen should be alert to these behaviors in others and be prepared to intervene.

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently. One resource is the VETERANS/MILITARY CRISIS LINE, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The crisis line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the crisis line via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

Limited Privilege Suicide Prevention Program:

The LPSP program is for Airmen who have been informed (verbally or in writing) that they are under investigations for possible UCMJ violations.

If an Airman is at risk for suicide, he/she may self refer or be referred to the program by any individual officially involved in the processing of the disciplinary action.

A mental health provider will determine if the Airman is at risk. If the mental health provider determines the member poses a risk of suicide he/she will: initiate treatment, explain the LPSP program, place the member in the program and document enrollment in the mental health notes.

The protection ends once the mental health provider determines the member no longer poses a risk of suicide. The LPSP protects what the Airman says in treatment with the mental health provider.

There are many resources available to airmen, their families, and friends pertaining to the subject of suicide prevention.

24/7 Resources And Information For Service Members And Families:

DoD/VA Suicide Outreach: DCoE Outreach Center (with Link to Chat)

Provides psychological health information and connects service members/families with resources.
1-866-966-1020

Military One Source

Free service provided by the DoD to service members and their families to help with a broad range of concerns including money management, spouse employment and education, parenting and child care, relocation, deployment, reunion, and the particular concerns of families with special-needs members.

They can also include more complex issues like relationships, stress, and grief. Services are available 24 hours a day -- by telephone and online.
(Available 24/7) 1-800-342-9647
http://www.militaryonesource.com/skins/MOS/home.aspx

Veterans/Military Crisis Line

The purpose of the Veterans/Military Crisis Line is to connect service-members, their families, and their friends to a qualified Department of Defense responder in a time of crisis. The VCL/MCL can be reached by phone at 1-800-273-8255, by text at 838255, or via online chat.

National Organizations Providing Suicide Prevention Information

American Association of Suicidology (AAS)

AAS is a membership organization for all those involved in suicide prevention and intervention, or touched by suicide. AAS is a leader in the advancement of scientific and programmatic efforts in suicide prevention through research, education and training, the development of standards and resources, and survivor support services.
https://www.suicidology.org/

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

Not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
http://www.afsp.org/

Link Counseling Center's National Resource Center

The Link's NRC is a leading resource in the country for suicide prevention and aftercare. It is dedicated to reaching out to those whose lives have been impacted by suicide and connecting them to available resources. Families who have experienced a loss through suicide receive unparalleled support while they grieve.
https://www.thelink.org/

Make the Connection

A public awareness campaign by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) that provides personal testimonials and resources to help Veterans discover ways to improve their lives.
http://maketheconnection.net/conditions/suicide#

Mental Health America

Dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental and substance use conditions and achieving victory over mental illnesses and additions through advocacy, education, research and service.
http://www.nmha.org/go/suicide

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

SAVE: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Their mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma and serve as a resource to those touched by suicide.
http://www.save.org