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?
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.
The AF Suicide Prevention Program is built on 11 overlapping core elements stressing leadership and community involvement in the prevention of suicides.
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.
Military life can be both rewarding and challenging, and everyone deals with life stressors. Fortunately, most Airmen 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:
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.
Military Crisis Line
DOD Safe Helpline
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