People don't need special training to safely talk about suicide or to show concern for a person in crisis. There are many ways - calling, reconnecting or physically meeting - to be there for service members, veterans and family members. According to experts, recognizing risk factors early is essential. Equally important are simple acts or words of kindness.
"Preventing suicide is about being there for every Sailor, Marine and family member, every day," said Cmdr. Rachel Baudek, director for mental health at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida. "Your words or gestures could make a significant difference in someone's life."
Building resilience and preventing suicide requires all members of the Navy and Marine Corps community to work together.
Knowing the warning signs is important; they include thoughts or comments about suicide, substance abuse, purposelessness, anxiety, feeling trapped or hopeless, withdrawal, anger, recklessness and mood changes.
Remember to ACT (Ask, Care, Treat). ASK if someone is depressed or thinking about suicide. Let her know you CARE. Get someone in crisis assistance (TREATment) as soon as possible.
Effective treatments and interventions are available for depression, situational stressors and other health problems that are risk factors for suicide. Military members who seek behavioral health care are protected by law from discrimination.
There are many simple things Sailors and Marines can do to stay healthy and mission-ready. Find time for yourself. Improve sleep habits, try yoga or meditation and participate in enjoyable activities. Break down obstacles - break challenges down into small steps and tackle them one at a time. Improve physical conditioning (regular physical training strengthens the muscles and the mind). Avoid using alcohol or other substances to manage stress, sleep, relationships and responsibilities. Finally, identify people you can to turn to and speak with when in need, whether a friend, family member, chaplain or health care professional.
Active-duty service members can schedule appointments with their primary care managers. PCMs can make referrals to mental health. For urgent needs, many mental health clinics are available for walk-ins. Deployment Health Centers may offer pre- and post-deployment physical and mental health services as well.
For free, 24/7, confidential support, the Military Crisis Line is available at 800-273-TALK (8255), text message to 838255, or online chat at www.veteranscrisisline.net
. The Crisis Line is available to current and former service members, their families and friends.
There's also a Be There Peer Support outreach center, staffed by veterans and military spouses. The center can be reached at 844-357-PEER (7337), text message to 480-360-6188 or online chat, 24/7, at www.BeTherePeerSupport.org
If someone is in immediate danger, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
Suicide can be prevented. Every life lost to suicide is one too many.