Suicide Prevention: What Can You Do Published Sept. 14, 2023 By 6th Air Refueling Wing Mental Health Clinic September is Suicide Prevention Month and National Suicide Prevention week is September 10 – 16, 2023. This year’s theme is “Creating Hope Through Action,” with the Department of Defense theme remaining “Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach.” We continue spotlighting initiatives to educate our military community about suicide prevention and connecting them with resources. Our people are our most precious asset. Seeking help is a sign of strength! Suicide prevention. So, what is it, really? Is it as hard as I think it is? Should I get involved? These are just some of the questions you may ask yourself when you hear about this (very important) topic. Well, your help is critical! This topic is crucial to stay on our minds in just about every population group you can think of. Research continues to show that amongst active duty military, men ages 20-24 are most vulnerable to this leading cause of preventable death. Connectedness is a protective factor that can reduce the risk of suicide. Building and strengthening social connections one can count on as well as developing a sense of belonging – while connecting with resources – can help prevent a crisis. There is no question that the number of suicide deaths among Service members and veterans is concerning. Every death by suicide is a tragedy and we will not relent in our efforts to prevent suicide among our service members, veterans, and their families. MacDill’s Integrated Resilience Office remains steadfast in highlighting Suicide Prevention Month Awareness Campaign highlighting various support services available to the military community. Leaders, service members, friends and family, and resources such as Military One Source, Chaplains, Military and Family Life Consultants, Financial Counselors, and Mental Health provide avenues for support and protection from suicide. When it comes to veterans specifically, there are some important facts you should know. There are over 6,000 U.S. military veteran suicides every year. Veterans die by suicide at a rate of 1.5 times higher than civilians. Despite federal investment in mental health, the numbers continue to rise. We have over 1.5 million veterans in Florida. They are family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. They are heroes who have risked their lives to protect our community. The least our community can do is work together to protect them. In Florida, there is an organization solely dedicated to suicide prevention of veterans. The Fire Watch is “Florida’s fight to end veteran suicide.” It is building a network of veterans and civilians trained to identify the warning signs of at-risk veterans and to direct them to the help they need. It is a force of community volunteers dedicated to watch out for our veterans. The volunteers, aka Watch Standers, take a stand to watch and save lives. Furthermore, the Veteran Safe Place is a program that is designed specifically for organizations to educate, train and empower their employees to be able to identify and support a veteran in crisis. To find out more information about this crucial service and to get involved for FREE, please visit thefirewatch.org and sign up TODAY! Service members, veterans, and family alike, the “Wingman” concept applies to us all. As such it is important that we always look out for each other, no matter the circumstance. We do this by situational awareness, talking and listening to one another, getting to know each other/connecting, celebrating each other’s accomplishments, and by caring and encouraging one another. Awareness, education, and treatment are the keys to suicide prevention. If you are in a position to help, don’t assume you presence is unwanted or intrusive. Your involvement can save a life! Service members and veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a service member or veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans/Military Crisis Line for confidential support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800- 273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat.