HomeNewsArticle Display

Suicide Prevention Month: How one person can make a difference

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- Thoughts of suicide are not necessarily something people explicitly announce to the world, which means loved ones often have no idea that their friend or family member is contemplating it. But there are signs and risk factors, and while somebody might think they can’t make a difference by themselves, that’s wrong. Experts say that’s sometimes all it takes.

That’s the point of the Power of 1 campaign, launched by the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs in observance of Suicide Prevention Month.

“One smile, one conversation, one comment, one caring gesture toward somebody at risk can make a difference in their experience and perhaps instill hope and get them to help,” said Dr. Keita Franklin, the Defense Suicide Prevention Office director.

The number one thing to know: Suicide is preventable. Warning signs are just missed sometimes.

“Inevitably, we always know that somebody has told somebody that they were struggling,” Franklin said of her office’s research. “Unfortunately, that person may not have known the extent of the risk.”

To be better prepared, here are some of the signs you can look for:

- Expressing sadness often
- Anxiety and agitation
- Deteriorating physical appearances and neglect of personal welfare
- Sleeping all the time, or having trouble sleeping
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Losing interest in hobbies; loss of appetite
- Performing poorly at work or school
- Dramatic and frequent mood changes
- Acting recklessly; showing violent, self-destructive behavior
- Expressing feelings of guilt, shame or failure
- Desperation – feeling like there’s no way out or no solution to the problem
- Giving away prized possessions
- Making out a will or otherwise getting his or her affairs in order
- Trying to secure weapons, pills or other things that can be used for harm

Common risk factors for suicide include relationship, financial or legal struggles.

It’s OK to not be OK

Franklin said a big part of suicide prevention in the military is making sure those at risk feel like they belong and are valued in their roles. That means making sure the at-risk person knows his or her chain of command cares and is willing to help – that it’s OK to not be OK.

“Leaders need to be able to convey to their units that people can bounce back from their stress issues and that they’re not always terminally broken,” Franklin said.

She said it’s important for at-risk people to know that getting help with mental health issues is a sign of strength, not weakness.

“It’s a big first step, and it can save a life, whether you’re the person at risk or the person helping the person at risk,” Franklin said.

She said service members are also provided peer-to-peer training that focuses on them looking for signs and risk factors and, more importantly, asking the question, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

“We won’t know if people are at risk until then,” Franklin said.

For more resources on how to support military members and veterans in crisis, visit Veteranscrisisline.net or the Defense Suicide Prevention Office website. Service members and veterans who need help can call the Military Crisis Line and speak to a counselor by dialing 800-273-TALK and pressing 1. If overseas, you can still get help by calling:

In Europe: 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118*
In Korea: 0808 55 118 or DSN 118
In Afghanistan: 00 1 800 273 8255 or DSN 111

DOD statistics show that in 2014, there were 268 confirmed suicides among active-duty military members, 79 confirmed in the Reserves and 87 in the National Guard.

Engage

Twitter
#DYK @AirMobilityCmd has approximately 110,000 total force personnel, providing rapid global mobility...right effec… https://t.co/OM6oIhSofG
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: The 378th Expeditionary Logisitcs Readiness Squadron perform a hydrostatic test on fuel hoses at @378_aew . What is a hydros…
Twitter
CMSgt Bass installed as the Air Force’s 19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. @cmsaf_official #AimHigh https://t.co/DN38IdsXhu
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: .@cmsaf_official has the passion, the skills, and the strength of character we need to lead us…to face head-on the demand…
Twitter
Lt Gen David Allvin nominated to become Air Force Vice Chief of Staff https://t.co/JST6kf0H4g
Twitter
RT @AFGlobalStrike: The #Strikers of @AFGlobalStrike congratulation CMSgt Kaleth O. Wright on his retirement, and welcome @cmsaf_official C…
Twitter
RT @SpaceForceCSO: Congrats to CMSgt Joanne Bass, @usairforce CMSAF #19! Mollie & I are looking forward to working with you & Rahn in suppo…
Twitter
Join us for the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force transition ceremony LIVE from @Andrews_JBA at 9:30AM EDT.… https://t.co/uUYv7TgMeb
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: #Airmen load up a C-130J Super Hercules before heading to #Bulgaria for Thracian Fall 2020. The @usairforce trains with B…
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: Airmen and Soldiers from the @CTNationalGuard delivered 21,000 cases of water from @fema to towns throughout the state in…
Twitter
RT @usairforce: “I’m a dental tech who became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force...be dreamers – dream big.” - @CSMAF_Official #ReadyAF
Twitter
Join us for the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force transition ceremony LIVE from @Andrews_JBA TOMORROW at 9:30AM ED… https://t.co/ok6km7nFoS
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Teammates, Let me start with 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒌 𝒚𝒐𝒖. https://t.co/xU6U3QuZV7
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Engaging through listening sessions, senior leaders are hearing directly from #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals on diversi…
Twitter
RT @PACAF: JUST IN: Three #B2 Spirits from @Whiteman_AFB deployed to Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in support of #BTF missions. @IND
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: The #Airmen at @Creech_AFB make a global impact 24/7. The RPAs they operate provide vital intelligence and strike capabi…
Twitter
"I'm confident that our Air Force can continue to be the most dominant and respected Air Force in the world." -… https://t.co/PZQzLUGBxz
Twitter
Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to @INGuardsman participate in close air support training. TACPs provide… https://t.co/BcyiAmfFmV
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: The @140Wg became the first ANG unit to successfully execute an agile combat employment exercise while at @Buckley_AFB. T…
Twitter
“I’m a dental tech who became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force...be dreamers – dream big.” - @CSMAF_Officialhttps://t.co/AKSjyQNq4s
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
1,267,248
Follow Us