JOINT BASE CHARLESTON,S.C., –
As a mental health technician, I am fortunate to talk and engage with people in my clinic and through outreach events. I signed up for the opportunity to help people who are facing family, occupational and other life stressors. So far, it has been very rewarding to see the positive impact my skill set has had on the lives of my fellow Airman, Sailors, Soldiers and their family members.
Too often the effects of unresolved issues merge with other military-related factors (e.g., PCS'ing, deployments, low manning) and snowball into the development of psychological problems and a reduced ability to cope with stress. Sometimes the prolonged and compounding effects of stress can lead to suicidal thoughts or to suicide itself.
Suicide continues to be a rising threat to all branches of the military. In 2014, the Air Force lost 99 Active, Reserve and civilian personnel to suicide. Over half of the victims never sought mental health services prior to completing suicide.
It is important to remember that suicide prevention is the responsibility of every Airman. Being a good Wingman sometimes requires you to be an "ACE." If you notice significant emotional or behavioral changes in a fellow Airman or colleague, ASK if he or she is having thoughts about suicide, CARE for your Wingman and never leave her/him alone if in crisis and ESCORT the Wingman to a helping agency.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and its aim is to educate the public on mental health services and de-stigmatize help seeking behaviors. If someone you know is struggling, be an ACE and have the courage to ASK.
Ask the question; Care about them; Escort them to help. Save a life.
JB Charleston Mental Health Clinic: 843-963-6852
Military Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)