Suicide Prevention Month Part 3: Smith seeks assistance

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the third installment in a four-part series on suicide awareness and prevention.

Senior Airman Smith is feeling more like himself these days. Once a good friend sat him down to ask how he was feeling, he realized he was in a dark place he wouldn't be able to escape without help.

After Smith verbalized thoughts of suicide, his wingman suggested he get help and called the Military Crisis Line to speak with a professional. The responder talked him through his feelings and asked him to flush the pills he planned to consume down the toilet. She then made Smith promise to seek further help.

Smith set up an appointment with the chaplain, who helped him sort his thoughts and offered suggestions for additional suicide prevention resources. Smith opened up to a few close friends and family members about his breakup and the effect it had on him, and was eventually able to move past the breakup and continue on with his life.

After a rocky few weeks, Smith's attitude and work performance have improved, and he is spending less time alone. Stress management and personal resiliency have proven to be a stable foundation for Smith to regain his ground. Although it's been a struggle, he vows to keep his head up and continue to be the best Airman he can be.

Smith is lucky to have a wingman who noticed something was wrong and took the initiative to act on his suspicions. Although individuals dealing with suicidal thoughts can speak with their supervisor, first sergeant or any of Kadena's suicide prevention resources without assistance from a third party, many do not due to fear of consequences or embarrassment. It is important for service members to take care of each other and help those who are struggling get help through resources provided on base.

The Military Crisis Line, while not exclusive to Kadena, provides services for active duty service members, veterans, family members and concerned friends 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Responders will stay on the phone for as long as necessary and will help callers set up a safety plan, which usually involves getting rid of any weapons or medications that could be used to end a life as well as agreeing to get help through another suicide prevention resource. To reach the Military Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 or chat online at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ActiveDuty.aspx.

Chaplains are excellent people to talk to about thoughts of suicide or any other personal struggle because they offer complete confidentiality. Chaplains are available by appointment during duty hours and can be reached through the command post 24 hours a day in case of emergencies. They provide services regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof. To set up an appointment with a chaplain, call 634-1288. To reach a chaplain for after-hours emergencies, call the command post at 634-1800.

Although mental health professionals are not bound by the same confidentiality clause chaplains are, they offer counseling to individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide or other issues like depression and anxiety. Generally, chaplains and Military Crisis Line responders will suggest seeking help through the mental health office since the personnel are specifically trained to offer solutions for mental health issues. To set up an appointment with mental health, call 630-4817.

Talking honestly to friends and family about your situation is another great way to garner support during a difficult time.

Recognizing that someone is considering suicide is a pointless skill to have if you do not know what to do next. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, talk to a supervisor, first sergeant or any of the resources Kadena offers to get the necessary help.

For more information, visit www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/suicideprevention.