HomeNewsArticle Display

Connection saves lives: Be there to help prevent suicide

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS) -- You can make a difference for someone struggling with suicidal thoughts with as little as eye contact and a friendly smile, an arm around the shoulder, or a kind word at the right time.

Everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide, a key theme of the Defense Department’s #BeThere Campaign, which encourages making a difference through every day connections.

“Connection saves lives,” said Col. David Linkh, the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program manager. “Isolation, alienation and feeling of a lack of belonging places folks at risk.”

Suicide is a major public health concern in the U.S., and for the Armed Forces. One of the most important and simplest ways to fight back against this threat is to build connections with people in your life, and make sure that people don’t feel alone and isolated.

“If a fellow Airman seems to be struggling, make simple gestures,” said Linkh. “Have lunch with them, talk to them and include them. Ask them how they are doing, or about their family. Stop by their desk and share a little bit about yourself.”

In the right circumstances, those simple, everyday actions really can save a life.

Recognizing that someone is at risk of suicide isn’t always possible. There isn’t always an obvious or consistent sign that someone may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. People can hide or compartmentalize the underlying stress that lead to suicidal behavior, but there are things you can watch out for.

“We tend think in terms of two things – risk factors and warning signs,” said Linkh. “Risk factors are some of the larger life factors that we sometimes see, like relationship, legal, financial or workplace issues. Warning signs are more behavior changes. That can include mood swings, irritability, anger, depression or social withdrawal.”

This can be especially true for people who are usually engaged and outgoing. It can be a concerning sign if they start avoiding eye contact, skipping social events and stop associating with family, friends or coworkers. Drug or alcohol abuse is another critical indicator that a person may be dealing with issues that could lead to self-harm.
There are some other warning signs that a wingman, supervisor or colleague might notice as well.

“Changes in work behavior, like showing up late to work, unexplained absences, or missed deadlines by folks who were previously on the spot can be concerning,” said Linkh. “Really, any change in behavior, especially one that suggests the person may be struggling in areas of their life. People shouldn’t be afraid to engage on these issues in a supportive way.”

If you are concerned about a person, start by just talking to them. It may seem simple, but not only can it help you get a sense of whether something is bothering them, it also reinforces relationships and can keep the person from feeling isolated. Being attentive to someone struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression can encourage them to open up and tell you that they are having trouble.

“We can’t always know what our wingmen or coworkers are dealing with,” said Linkh. “Taking the time to know one another and go out of our way to help each other can help change the culture. Small acts of kindness, small moments of connection can make us all safer.”

For more information about suicide prevention and additional resources, visit the Air Force Medical Service Suicide Prevention page, or the U.S. Air Force Wingman Online page. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are worried that someone you know may be about to engage in self-harm, call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press “1” for assistance.

Engage

Twitter
Supporting the Department of the Air Force Arctic Strategy. From development to ops in less than a year! These inn… https://t.co/kDXsw1hJ8P
Twitter
Taking care of people The Women’s Health Transition Training, which is offered virtually, provides information on… https://t.co/yL9UQ0V9rf
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: I believe that success takes a team, but failure you can do alone. Grateful for the chance to sit down and connect with a…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: A new $33 million contract is increasing #COVID19 testing capabilities at 42 #military treatment facilities across the @usairf
Twitter
Accelerate change or lose. @GenCQBrownJr expressed his vision for fulfilling the Air Force's mission and protectin… https://t.co/t2iHEW5yAM
Twitter
RT @airforcerso: Every operation and campaign is only as strong as its supply chain. Tune into #AMO2020 today to watch teams compete in a w…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Thank you to @MilFamiliesMag for talking with Sharene and me today. The wellbeing of our families is essential to the suc…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: While many people are sleeping, Maintainers are still hard at work... Our teammates Ellsworth AFB, shared a picture of…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: It’s the Airmen who aren’t in this photo that I want to talk about. They are out there right now turning wrenches, gene…
Twitter
RT @airforcerso: 13 teams are competing to help the @USAirForce with better performing, more cost-effective & reliable technology that prod…
Twitter
Keeping combat agile 💪 @USAF_ACC is testing agile combat employment & a new lead wing deployment concept intended… https://t.co/0F3nAwIZnx
Twitter
Strengthening international partnerships. #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/m5YeqA8i5G
Twitter
Modernizing our fighting force! #AimHigh #InnovativeAF https://t.co/pEQUJdqYFE
Twitter
#DYK The 563rd Rescue Group directs flying operations for the #USAF's only active duty rescue wing dedicated to Com… https://t.co/QYDiSZ50qe
Twitter
Another day at the office. Can't comPLANE. 😉 ⚡ #LoveThisJob #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/7Vjemy7gP7
Twitter
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Blinded by the light 😎🔆 @TeamFairchild is taking #innovation to another level by setting the standard for Project Tesse…
Twitter
Defense data for academia! 🎓 “Digital engineering isn't a fluke … It is our future.” - Dr. Will Roper, assistant… https://t.co/NQsFQpmu2N
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Dr. Anderson participated in Global Thunder, US-Stratcom’s annual NC2 exercise while traveling to Minot. This exercise i…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Laid a wreath at the American Cemetery in Münsingen, Switzerland, which hosts the gravesites of 61 U.S. Army Air Forces…
Twitter
RT @WILLROP3R: ASKED/ANSWERED. Friday, a @usairforce U-2 spy plane updated code during flight--a military first! Update #2 improved automat…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,296,151
Follow Us