Taking a proactive stance against suicide

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Suicide continues to be a problem in the general society and the military. Tremendous effort has been made to address this problem but there is more to be done.

The Academy is committed to building a community recognizing Airmen in distress and intervening appropriately to provide resources.

The goal of the Suicide Prevention Program is to increase awareness and advocacy about suicide prevention. One of the greatest tools for suicide intervention and prevention is for Airmen to know the warning signs, how to help and what to do in an emergency.

Coworkers, family and friends are in the best position to recognize behavioral changes, to discuss these changes with the individual and provide care and support. Changes may be exhibited in one or more of the following ways: mood, concentration, sleep, energy, appetite, substance use, impulse control, reduced capacity for enjoyment, helplessness or hopelessness, peer relations (withdrawal or arguments), work performance, military bearing, personal hygiene and grooming and ineffective problem-solving.

It's not only important to be able to recognize warning signs in others, but also in yourself. If you are concerned about someone, use the ACE Model to discuss suicide.

1. Ask: Ask directly about thoughts of suicide without being judgmental. Never promise to keep thoughts of suicide a secret or criticize someone's thoughts or feelings. Always take indicators of suicide risk seriously. Accept distressed thoughts or feelings as an indication of a person's distress and need for help.

2. Care: Express care and concern for the distress the person is feeling and a desire to help. Accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment and express your desire to help and support them through a difficult time.

3. Escort: Escort the person to help. Don't leave them alone; get them to a medical facility, chaplain, commander or other authority that can help. Don't ignore the problem or expect the situation to improve; act immediately to get help.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, involve unit leaders or security forces if necessary to protect the person from harming himself or herself. The person may be so intent on suicide that they become dangerous to those attempting to help them. If possible, remove all potential means of self-harm from their area such as firearms, pills, knives, rope, and machinery.

Call the National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK for assistance. If on base during duty hours, call 333-5177 or visit the Academy Mental Health Clinic in the Community Center.
After duty hours, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department.

If you are concerned for someone you know, please seek appropriate consultation. On base, there are the Mental Health Clinic personnel, Chaplains and Military and Family Life Consultants available for treatment. Off-base, there are therapists through TriCare, support groups, and Military One Source.

Visit www.suicidology.org or afspp.afms.mil for more information.