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The Air Force Suicide Prevention Program was established in 1996.


“Suicide prevention remains a top priority of Air Force leadership, and we remain committed to doing everything possible to save lives. The Air Force Suicide Prevention Program (AFSPP), launched in 1996 and fully implemented by 1997, emphasizes leadership involvement and a community approach to reducing deaths from suicide. The program is an integrated network of policy and education that focuses on reducing suicide through the early identification and treatment of those at risk. It uses leaders as role models and agents of change, establishes expectations for Airman behavior regarding awareness of suicide risk, develops population skills and knowledge, and analyzes every suicide.”

— Lieutentant General Darrell D. Jones about Air Force suicide programs March 21, 2013 before the U.S. House of Representative Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel

The AF Suicide Prevention Program is built on 11 overlapping core elements stressing leadership and community involvement in the prevention of suicides. It is one < 20 evidence based programs listed in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence- Based Programs and Practices.

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, 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 Airmen 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 signs and symptoms 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., Support and Resilience Inventory, Unit Climate Assessment) 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.

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