Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business

By Lisa Congdon, Clinical Counselor, Community Counseling Program,

& Angela Finley, Prevention Education Specialist, Family Advocacy Program

By the end of today, approximately 121 Americans, including 22 veterans, will die as a result of suicide.

Many more Americans and veterans will attempt suicide or experience thoughts of suicide. The military community is not immune. As the holidays approach, let’s commit to taking action and supporting the welfare and morale of servicemembers and families.

Each tragic loss impacts the whole community: families, friends, and servicemembers who are left behind. At the unit level, suicide affects morale, unit cohesion, and, ultimately, mission readiness.

There are a number of ways to help. A great way to begin is to learn to recognize the signs. While some warning signs of suicide are obvious, others are not so apparent. If recognized, you can help someone who is in distress. All warning signs should be taken seriously, even if it appears that the person is joking or intoxicated. Warning signs are a signal that help is required, and some warning signs signal that imminent assistance is required.

SUICIDE CAN BE TRIGGERED BY MANY FACTORS:


Relationship problems, sexual assault, civil or military legal trouble, financial troubles or gambling debts, work performance issues, trouble adjusting to the military or living away from home, being bullied or harassed (including via social media), dealing with stress, depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain or medical conditions, or the death of a family member, friend, or fellow veteran.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:

  • Isolating oneself from families, friends, hobbies
  • Having persistent or worsening trouble sleeping or eating
  • Sleeping too much
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs (often at the time of the suicide behavior)
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities without thinking about the consequences, like driving fast or walking into traffic
  • Frequent talking, writing, or drawing about death or the desire to not be here anymore
  • Giving away possessions and putting affairs in order, such as making a will or tying up loose ends
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Making references or jokes about suicide
  • Acting happier than usual – this is because they made the decision to carry out a suicide attempt and feel some type of relief
  • Violent behavior like punching holes in the walls or getting into fights

THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS THAT CAN LEAD TO SUICIDE:

  • Feeling worthless or unable to help themselves
  • Feeling like a failure, a burden to others, or like honor was lost
  • Feeling hopeless, trapped, or like there’s no way out
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, angry, or seeking revenge
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live

WHAT IF I OR SOMEONE I KNOW IS HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND/OR BEHAVIORS?


GET HELP NOW! No matter the issue, support and resources are available to help. Your command, family, and friends  most likely have a sense that you are going through a tough time. Talk to them about what you’re thinking and feeling. Suicidal thoughts or feelings should not be dealt with alone. It is a good idea to reach out for professional help. Treatment can help cope with suicidal thoughts and behaviors and can involve counseling, medication, or both. Counseling can help to identify a new perspective, find solutions, and assist with improving coping skills.

I DON’T WANT TO SEEK HELP BECAUSE I AM WORRIED ABOUT THE IMPACT ON MY CAREER. WHAT SHOULD I DO?


Seeking help does not mean the end of a career. In fact, not seeking help and allowing problems to spiral out of control is more likely to result in troubles that impact careers. In a warrior culture, where servicemembers are taught to suppress or restrict emotions and embrace self-reliance, it can be a challenge to accept a need for assistance. Seeking help to address concerns before they accelerate can help you get back in the fight sooner. Often the servicemembers that need help the most are the ones who are most resistant. Suicidal thoughts don’t go away despite efforts to minimize or ignore them. They often get worse before they get better.

WHAT IF I’M CONCERNED ABOUT SOMEONE?


TAKE ACTION!

Action can make a difference and can save a life. A little kindness goes a long way! Suicide prevention begins with providing support. Help others be included and feel supported.

Bring someone a snack, meal, or drink Be a gym buddy or do something outdoors together Stop by their place for a visit Meet for coffee or a meal Invite them on a trip Invite them to your home for holiday meals Offer to help out (babysit, run errands, bring a meal) Offer to be a mentor Send a care package |Report adverse behavior such as harassment, bullying, or hazing Report sexual assaults, domestic violence, and other crimes Encourage seeking help

WHAT ELSE CAN HELP?

  • Feeling worthlesIf affiliated with religion, participate in your religious service on base or onlines or unable to help themselves
  • Try a new activity
  • Explore the local area
  • Ask directly about suicide. If someone reveals suicidal thoughts or behaviors, do not leave him/her alone. Don’t agree to keep secrets about suicide. Get help immediately. Call 911 or take him/her to the Branch Health Clinic.

24/7 HOTLINES


MEDICAL ACUTE CARE | 24/7 | 0827-79-5572

FAMILY ADVOCACY PROGRAM | 24/7 | 090-9978-1033

SUBSTANCE ABUSE RESOURCE CENTER | 080-5865-3566

DSTRESS | 24/7 | 0827-79-7734

CHAPLAIN | 24/7 | 080-6612-9244

RESOURCES ABOARD MCAS IWAKUNI


SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAM | 253-5260

COMMUNITY COUNSELING PROGRAM | 253-6553

FAMILY ADVOCACY PROGRAM | 253-4526

CHAPLAIN | 253-3371

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