Shipmates, this month is an opportunity for us to reenergize the conversation about suicide prevention and talk about how we can be there for each other every day.
To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has made life difficult for many this year. Some may have increased anxiety or stress levels. Others may feel alone. And some may struggle to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
That is why it’s so important for each of us to take time to connect with our shipmates – both uniform and civilian – as well as our families and friends. Now is the time for us to have open and honest conversations, and encourage people to seek help when they need it.
Suicide prevention doesn’t require monumental effort. It can be as simple as finding ways to stay connected to each other. Now, more than ever, we MUST be sure our shipmates do not feel so isolated or overwhelmed that they consider suicide.
Anyone can be at risk for suicide. That is why we must make it our mission to #BeThe1To take an active role in preventing it. While there will always be challenges and stressors in life that are hard to talk about, it’s up to us to ask direct questions when we see our shipmates experiencing difficulties.
Let me be clear. There cannot be BYSTANDERS in our Navy. That is why it’s so important that WE ALL take the time to look for potential warning signs. We need all hands on deck for this. And if you see someone in need, you must ACT (Ask, Care, Treat) to get them the help they need.
Look around. Right now, in your division, in your department or at your command, there could be someone who needs your help, who is struggling with stress or having thoughts of suicide.
Some behaviors that may indicate a person is at immediate risk for suicide include:
- Ideation: thoughts of suicide whether expressed, threatened or written
- Substance Abuse: increased or excessive alcohol or drug use
- Purposeless: seeing no reason for living on meaning in life
- Anxiety: anxiousness, agitation, nightmares or inability to sleep
- Trapped: feeling as though there is no way out of the current situation
- Hopelessness: feeling hopeless about oneself, others or the future
- Withdrawal: isolating from friends, family, usual activities, society
- Anger: feelings of rage or uncontrollable anger, seeking revenge
- Recklessness: acting without regard for consequences
- Mood change: dramatic changes in mood, unstable mood
Recognizing these signs is every Sailor’s responsibility. And while it may not be comfortable to start a conversation at first, your actions can save a life.
Help is always available and there are many resources available to address suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
- Find help with your local Navy chaplain, Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) or medical provider.
- Review and share resources from Military OneSource.
- Use the Military Crisis Line (call 1-800-273-TALK, press 1 or text 838255) for assistance.
- Check the 1 Small ACT toolkit for more information about how to check in, and how to #BeThere for Every Sailor, Every Day.
- The Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life (SAIL) program is also available provide safety planning, suicide risk assessment and caring contacts, as well as to act as a liaison and advocate for Sailors following instances of suicide-related behaviors.