Preventing suicide through education, training

October 21, 2011

51st Medical Operations Squadron

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea

In response, the Department of Defense is working to combat the tragedy of suicide in military communities around the world.

The plan is to educate through the development of educational problems, encouraging self-help, working to develop healthy communities and training front-line leaders on strategies to enhance unit cohesion and support military members, there is a determined effort to preserve the lives of all service members.

On a personal level, everyone should learn how to recognize when a fellow warrior may be at risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors and what to do when a problem is identified.

Warning Signs of Suicide

All military members have been trained to identify sources of physical danger but you should also be able to identify psychological danger by asking yourself some questions about your buddyís behavioral health.

Here are some signs for concern:

--Significant relationship, financial, or work related problems

--Current or pending disciplinary or legal action

--Substance misuse

--Significant prolonged stress

--Sense of powerlessness, helplessness or hopelessness

--Behavior that isolates them from friends and family members

Suicidal thoughts are usually associated with problems that can be treated or dealt with, so proactively identifying the problem and seeking treatment is the best way to ensure resilience. If your buddy is showing any of the above signs for concern, donít hesitate -- have the strength to take action.

Take Action if You See a Problem

It takes courage to deal with psychological issues in yourself or in a fellow warrior. If the situation is urgent, use these resources to get immediate assistance for your buddy:

ASK your warrior about suicidal thoughts

--Have the courage to ask if the warrior is having thoughts of suicide, but stay calm.

--Ask the question directly: Are you thinking of killing yourself?

--Know the signs for concern listed above.

CARE for your warrior

--Stay calm and safe -- do not use force.

--Actively listening without passing judgment can help produce relief for the warrior.

--Removing any lethal means, such as weapons or pills.

--Actively listen for details about what, where and when your warrior may be planning to kill himself or herself. (If your warrior acknowledges his/her plans, it generally suggests that he/she is accepting your help.)

ESCORT your warrior to get help

--Escort your warrior immediately to his/her chain of command, behavioral health professional, or chaplain.

--Call 911 or 800-273-TALK to speak with a trained professional right away.

Donít keep your warriorís suicidal behavior a secret.

--Never leave your warrior alone -- stay until he/she receives appropriate help.

--Adopting an attitude that you are going to help your fried will save his or her life.

No one is alone

Each military service offers suicide prevention resources. The stakes in the fight against military suicide are the same as the stakes in combat: lives are on the line. Thatís why -- now more than ever -- you must use your strength to step up and take action if someone you know is at risk.

For more information on suicide prevention visit

†--†The loss of any life is a tragedy, whether in combat or not, and there has been a recent increase in military suicides.