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Suicide prevention – hopes for the future

  • Published
  • By A1C Alexander
  • 49th Medical Group

To some, suicide prevention seems like a topic that is discussed without any definite solution.

Every Airman sits through the annual briefings and trainings and hears the statistics that go along with them, yet suicide remains a problem within the DOD.

Although there may never be a definite solution to end suicide, it is important that we all have an understanding of how to get through the hard times we face. Before I joined the Air Force, I was personally affected by the suicide of someone I knew. It left me feeling like it was a mystery that will never be solved.

Going into the Air Force with an open-general contract, I never thought I would have the opportunity to help people who are going through difficult times.

I’ve been a mental health technician here at Holloman Air Force Base for the past year, and my experiences have been eye-opening. I’ve seen both sides of the story: the triumph of those who have overcome their difficult situations and the tragic loss of those who did not.

Now, I have a much clearer understanding of why suicide prevention is needed.

Through ownership of suicide prevention and relating to Airmen on a more personal level, I hope we can have a better understanding of the stress individuals face and therefore, confront suicide head-on.

Hopefully, more people will be aware of the fact that we all go through tough times. As Airmen, it is our responsibility to pick each other up so we can keep on going. It’s important to remember that if you are going through a hard time and feel like giving up, you are not alone – get help.

Sometimes, we believe it is weak to ask for help. Nothing could be further from the truth. Isolation is one of the easiest mistakes a person could make when battling depression. Admitting to yourself that you need help is one of the most difficult but beneficial things you could do.

A big problem people have is feeling that we should be able to take on all of our problems without any help. This kind of thinking couldn’t be more wrong.

Some options available to you include the chaplain, Military Family Life Consultants at the Airman and Family Readiness Center or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. The chaplain has a 100 percent confidentiality policy. No matter what you discuss with them, it stays between you two. Remembering this information can be a good first step in getting help.

I’ve been to the briefings. I’ve heard senior leadership address suicide prevention and encourage Airmen to get help. These situations alone aren’t going to end suicide. Communicating our problems with others will.  

If you only take away one piece of information from my story, remember that suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it off to someone else.