Health & Safety

October 5, 2012

Family Matters Blog: Families can support suicide stand-down

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Army conducted its worldwide stand-down for suicide prevention, Sept. 27. Family members can prepare themselves for an emergency by adding the Military Crisis Line number to their Smartphone contacts at 1-800-273-8255, press 1, or text 838255, or visit militarycrisisline.net.

All calls are confidential and are taken by trained counselors. Therefore, even if you are unsure if someone close to you may be suicidal, you can at least talk through the situation with someone who understands and can share insight.

Army vice chief of staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III ordered the stand-down in response to increasing soldier suicides, but noted it is a broader societal problem. “Ultimately, we want the mindset across our force and society at large to be that behavioral health is a routine part of what we do and who we are, as we strive to maintain our own physical and mental wellness,” he said.

As the Army stands down, think of the families who struggle every day with the possibility of suicide. Think of the mother who makes daily calls to check in on her son, the wife who left her husband out of concern for their children after he attempted suicide and the man who removed firearms from his brother’s house out of fear he would use them against himself. All bear unimaginable stress from the daily fear that a loved one will take his or her own life.

Think of the families for whom the recent focus on suicide prevention came too late, for those who will forever think about how they may have missed signs leading up to a suicide.

“I’m thinking of the Army family I knew who lost their only daughter to suicide when she was just 22,” said Austin. “I knew Candace as the girl across the street, an outgoing and bubbly high school student who dreamed of being a pediatrician. She was a good student and an athlete and when she wasn’t studying or running, she spent many hours at my house playing with my son while I worked, often refusing payment, she said, because she so enjoyed playing with the baby. It was clear she had a gift with children and I marveled at what the future would hold for her.”

Austin’s family moved away after a couple of years and Candace went away to college on scholarship, as expected. They lost touch after a while and somewhere in the next four years, Candace’s life got off track from what she had planned. At some point, she lost hope and took that awful step that has been called the permanent solution to temporary problems.

Eight years have passed and he still see’s Candace’s bright smile in his mind and wonders what could have been for her.
Coping with any death is hard, but families and friends of suicide victims have the added torment of trying to understand how their loved one came to their decision and if they could have stopped them, if they had recognized the signs. More than a hundred Army families are coping with the suicide of a soldier this year and no doubt, many more are dealing with another family member having taken his or her own life.

As Secretary Leon Panetta and other DOD leaders have said, understanding suicide and reversing its rising trend is hard; General Austin called it his toughest enemy. No training or information campaign will end all suicides. However, the stand-down hopefully will go a long way in helping people recognize the warning signs in a potentially suicidal person and most importantly, it will elevate the conversation out of the darkness of being a taboo topic.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
HBI-photo

Fitness at a glance – It’s all about timing!

Ever notice how your anxiety tends to increase around your fitness assessment time (FA)? It is amazing that in 20 minutes (or less) your FA is over, but your anxiety level has cumulatively increased over the 30-90 days (or more...
 
 

Fourth of July fireworks safety tips

Many cities and communities in or near Riverside County provide spectacular fireworks displays for their residents. The operators of these displays are licensed and have permits issued by the State Fire Marshal. As a reminder (other than the licensed and permitted operators mentioned above), all fireworks (including sparklers) are illegal in Riverside County because they cause...
 
 
AFG-150601-013-(Ntl-Mens-Health-Week)

Website offers Airmen state-of-the-art medical, mental health support online

The Air Force Medical Service’s Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia (CEMM) offers links to websites for Airmen and their families dealing with men’s health, and many, many other health issues from head to toe, inclu...
 

 

Men’s Health Month – focus on prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Most prostate cancers grow slowly, and don’t cause any health problems in men who have them. A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test may find a prostate health problem, but treatment can cause serious side effects. Learn about prostate cancer and talk to your doctor before...
 
 

Reduce your risk during National Safety Month

Injuries are a leading cause of disability for people of all ages – and they are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44. The good news is everyone can get involved to help prevent injuries. During National Safety Month, the 452nd Air Mobility Wing safety office is spreading the word to...
 
 
holding_hands

Help available for those grieving the loss of a loved one

The death of a service member or family member can be a devastating experience, especially in our tight knit military community. Everybody is professionally or personally interrelated to everyone else, and at the end of the da...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>