Suicide prevention is everyone's year-round responsibility

Suicide Prevention Graphic (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Naoko Shimoji/Released)

"Suicide is a complex issue involving a variety of difficult life circumstances. However, by taking steps to build personal resiliency and looking out for our wingmen, I know we can save lives and put an end to suicide in the Air Force." - Col. Chris Cronce, Commander, HQ RIO

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Though September was suicide prevention month, prevention must be on our minds continuously. That's why I want to reiterate that it's each Airman's responsibility to prevent suicide by building personal resiliency and by being a good wingman throughout the year.

Recognizing the signs of suicide is necessary for prevention. Signs include displaying feelings of hopelessness, high levels of anxiety or self-destructive behaviors, withdrawing from family and friends, losing interest in one's favorite activities, and even talking about death. Please be cognizant of these behaviors in your wingmen... and in yourself.

First, it's critically important to take care of yourself. By building personal resiliency - a balance of mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness - you will be able to withstand, recover and grow in the face of the many challenges encountered as an Individual Reservist. I know it can be difficult to juggle two careers and a personal life, but I also know that by strengthening yourself in these four areas, you can make it through even the toughest situation.

In addition to building personal resiliency, we need to look out for one another. Know what's going on in the lives of fellow Airman, family members, and friends. Keep a finger on the emotional pulse of your wingmen. If something doesn't seem right, be there to listen and support them. If your wingmen express thoughts of suicide, don't leave their side. Help by getting them to a professional who can provide the care they need. If appropriate, don't hesitate to call 911.

If you, or a wingman, are having thoughts of suicide, I implore you to get help. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and you should never feel ashamed to visit a chaplain, medical clinic or other mental health professional. The Air Force offers many resources to help in times of crisis, including:
Remember, if you seek behavioral health care, federal law protects you against workplace discrimination.

Suicide is a complex issue involving a variety of difficult life circumstances. However, by taking steps to build personal resiliency and looking out for our wingmen, I know we can save lives and put an end to suicide in the Air Force.