Air Force Featured Stories

Shining a light on resources during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Sean Schroeder
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It’s a month focused on ‘shining a light’ on a problem that has tragically affected thousands of Americans across the country.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 49,449 people took their lives in 2022. In 2021, 48,183 people died by suicide. That brings the combined total from 2021-2022 to 97,632.
 
These are sobering statistics; they represent the equivalent of thousands of people residing in multiple small towns and cities getting wiped out by suicide.
 
Experts note there are several contributing factors to suicide; one of them is limited access to mental health resources.
 
This factor is NOT an issue for military members and their families. Help is readily available, and professionals can help you and/or your family cope with things such as work stress, relationship problems, legal issues and substance abuse concerns.
 
For example, Military OneSource is a valuable resource for the military community. It can be accessed online through their official Department of Defense website or by phone (800-342-9647). They offer 24/7 access to information, consultations and coaching, live chat and access to confidential non-medical counseling.
 
Military and Family Life Counselors are available at military bases across the nation and overseas. They offer confidential counseling to support military members and their families on a variety of concerns, to include work, school and parenting. Their services can be accessed by calling the Military and Family Readiness Center. MFLCs offer flexible hours and counseling options to their military clients.
 
Military installations have behavioral/mental health clinics that have technicians and credentialed social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Most clinics offer mental health and substance abuse assessments, counseling, psychoeducation classes and therapy services. These clinics can facilitate referrals to other clinics in your local area for specialized services, such as inpatient treatment for mental and/or substance abuse concerns.
 
The Military Crisis Line, also known as the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or Veterans Crisis Line, can be accessed by calling 988. They offer free and confidential support for people in distress.
 
Additional services and support are also provided by a variety of organizations: legal office, Military and Family Readiness Center, Family Advocacy, and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.
 
Leaders across the DoD are keenly aware that military life presents its share of unique challenges, which is why they are committed to taking care of its people.
 
In a DoD release dated May 5, 2023, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Gilbert Cisneros, Jr., stated, “Our greatest strength is our people, and we are committed to their well-being.”
 
A recent example is the DoD implementation of the Brandon Act, which “allows service members to seek help confidentially, for any reason, at any time, and in any environment, and aims to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.”
 
If you are struggling, reach out and get the support you need. You earned it. You’re entitled to it. You deserve it.
 
Help is just a mouse click or a phone call away.