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Green Dot training prompts suicide intervention

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- An Air Force Life Cycle Management Center program manager at Hanscom Air Force Base credits her efforts to help a woman she worried was suicidal to Green Dot training she received.

Elizabeth Rosa, who works in the battle management air traffic systems branch, was scrolling through Facebook one evening in January 2017 when she saw a post by someone she had only met once.

The woman wrote, “I don't even know why I exist, I just lost my job, my elderly father keeps yelling at me, and I can't get anything right - what's the point of being here!”

“I immediately took notice,” Rosa, who had attended Green Dot Facilitator training two months earlier, said. “I’m watching and I’m watching to see if someone who knows her better will respond.”

Rosa said she messaged the woman, who did not respond. She waited 15 minutes before jumping in her car to try to drive to the woman’s house, which she had only been to once before to deliver cupcakes for a fundraising initiative they were involved in.

“I drove around town trying to remember the neighborhood she lived in, and when I couldn’t remember, I went to the police station to ask for help,” she said.

After speaking with a police officer about it and showing him a profile picture of the woman, the officer said he was just at the house.

“He told me that the father had requested a wellness check after he had berated her on the phone earlier in the day,” Rosa said.

Before providing the address, the police officer returned to the woman’s house to get permission to provide Rosa the address.

“With address in hand, I drove to her house to visit with her. I stayed there for three hours listening and connecting her to local support programs I thought she might benefit from,” Rosa said. “When I left, she told me how much she appreciated my spending time with her.”

Rosa said the woman is now doing better. She has a new full-time job, and even a part-time job.

“I am grateful to have possibly made a difference,” she said. “I couldn't have lived with myself if no one took action after reading something like that on Facebook. What if the next day I had read about a different outcome?”
Rosa continues to check on the woman to ensure she is doing OK.

“Through the facilitator training I attended, I learned to be proactive in specific situations,” she said. “If you see a co-worker down, intervene, be welcoming and engaging. Get involved. It could make all the difference to that person.”

Rosa highlighted that, while the training she attended focused on preventing sexual and domestic violence, abuse and stalking, she found that many of the same principles applied.

“Look for warning signs,” she said. “The four steps a bystander can take when an issue arises can be applied to both sexual assault prevention and suicide prevention.”

Air Force officials recently announced that the service has integrated suicide prevention into the Green Dot strategy.

“I think it is a good fit to combine the two trainings, and use similar concepts for suicide prevention that we’re using for the prevention of sexual assaults, domestic violence and stalking,” said Dawn Andreucci, Hanscom AFB’s prevention specialist.