In any given year, over 40,000 Americans die by suicide, almost twice as many as are killed by homicide. The military is not exempt from the problem of suicide.

What do you need to know to effectively raise awareness about suicide prevention?

  • Daily connections can make a big impact on someone’s feeling of loneliness.
  • No special training is needed to show genuine concern for someone in crisis.
  • Suicide prevention is very much a leadership issue, which means leaders should create climates in which Service Members are encouraged to seek the help they need.
  • When members of the military get behavioral health care, they are protected against discrimination by law.
  • There are important signs of suicide risk that can be identified: Hopelessness, Anxiety, Self-destructive behavior (for example, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as talking about death)
Family Suicide Prevention Training

This educational program uses a fictional story to help viewers recognize warning signs of distress. It also provides training to help viewers understand different options for intervening, along with available resources, and helps viewers appreciate the importance of being proactive and developing strong protective factors.
Click here for the video training.

 

Department of the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program

11 Elements of the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program:

The AF Suicide Prevention Program is built on 11 overlapping core elements stressing leadership and community involvement in the prevention of suicides.

  1. Leadership Involvement: AF leaders actively support the entire spectrum of suicide prevention initiatives in the community.
  2. Addressing Suicide Prevention through Professional Military Education: PME provides periodic and targeted Suicide Prevention training for Airmen and Guardians, specifically oriented to the individual's rank and level of responsibility.
  3. Guidelines for Commanders: Use of Mental Health Services: Commanders receive training on how and when to use mental health services and guidance on their role in encouraging early help seeking behavior.
  4. Unit-based Preventive Services: Helping-agency professionals partner with unit leaders to provide services at the work site to increase access, encourage help-seeking, and promote familiarity, rapport, and trust with the force and families.
  5. Wingman Culture: Wingmen practice healthy behaviors and make responsible choices and encourage others to do the same. Wingmen foster a culture of early help-seeking. Wingmen recognize the risk factors and warning signs of distress in themselves and others and take protective action.
  6. Investigative Interview Policy: Following any investigative interview, the investigator is required to 'hand-off' the individual directly to the commander, first sergeant, or supervisor. The unit representative is then responsible for assessing the individual's emotional state and contacting a mental health provider if any question about the possibility of suicide exists.
  7. Post Suicide Response (Postvention): Suicide impacts coworkers, families, and friends. Offering support early is associated with increased help-seeking behavior.
  8. Integrated Delivery System (IDS) and Community Action Information Board (CAIB): At the Air Force, MAJCOM, and base levels, the CAIB and IDS provide a forum for the cross-organizational review and resolution of individual, family, installation, and community issues that impact the force readiness and the quality of life.
  9. Limited Privilege Suicide Prevention Program: Patients undergoing legal action who are at risk for suicide are afforded increased confidentiality when seen by mental health providers.
  10. Commanders Consultation Assessment Tool: Commanders use a variety of assessments (e.g., Unit Climate Assessment, Air force Community Assessment Survey, Airman Comprehensive Asessment) recommended by appropriate agencies, to gain insight into unit strengths and areas of vulnerability.
  11. Suicide Event Tracking and Analysis: Information on all AF suicides and suicide attempts are entered into a central database, currently the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DoDSER), to identify suicide risk factors and trends.

Risk Factors

Military life can be both rewarding and challenging, and everyone deals with life stressors. Fortunately, most Airmen and Guardians deal effectively with life stressors the majority of the time.

For some people, however, challenges can seem overwhelming, which may even lead to thoughts of suicide. Risk Factors for suicide include anything that makes it more likely that a person will attempt to take his or her own life, such as:

  • Relationship problems
  • Legal challenges
  • Financial issues
  • Medical problems
  • Sleep concerns
  • Workplace challenges, or
  • Family problems

These stressors may or may not be known to others. For this reason, it’s important to notice changes in those around you, and engage with anyone you are concerned about. Ask questions in order to understand what’s going on, and provide support. It’s also important to recognize Risk Factors in yourself as signs that you may need additional support.

Strategic Initiatives

Resources Matrix