Posted by Col. Christopher Cronce
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — It is every Airman’s responsibility to prevent suicide by building personal resiliency and by being a good wingman.
Prevention starts by recognizing the signs of suicide. These include displaying feelings of hopelessness, high levels of anxiety or self-destructive behaviors, withdrawing from family and friends, losing interest in one’s favorite activities, and even talking about death. Be aware of these behaviors in your wingmen…and in yourself.
First, it’s critically important to take care of yourself. By building personal resiliency – a balance of mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness – you will be able to withstand, recover and grow in the face of the challenges you encounter as an Individual Reservist.
I know it can be difficult to juggle two careers and a personal life, but I also know that by strengthening yourself in these four areas, you can make it through even the toughest situation.
In addition to building personal resiliency, we need to look out for one another. Know what’s going on in the lives of fellow Airmen, family members and friends. Keep a finger on the emotional pulse of your wingmen.
If something doesn’t seem right, be there to listen and support them. If your wingmen express thoughts of suicide, don’t leave their side. Help by getting them to a professional who can provide the care they need. If appropriate, don’t hesitate to call 911.
If you or a wingman are having thoughts of suicide, I implore you to get help. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. You should never feel ashamed to visit a chaplain, medical clinic or other mental health professional. The Air Force offers many resources to help in times of crisis, including:
- Military Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255, press 1, text to 838255 or militarycrisisline.net
- Vets4Warriors peer support chat line – 855-838-8255 or vets4warriors.com
- Your unit chaplain, with whom you have 100 percent confidentiality
Remember, if you seek behavioral health care, federal law protects you against workplace discrimination.
Suicide is a complex issue involving a variety of difficult life circumstances. However, by taking steps to build personal resiliency and looking out for our wingmen, I know we can save lives.