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:
THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS THAT CAN LEAD TO SUICIDE:
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?
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?
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