EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
"Always remember that our most valuable resource is each other. When one of us faces a challenge, we all must stand together. By fighting as one team, we can - and we will - help prevent suicide."
- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
The month of September has been designated as National Suicide Prevention Month. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 25 to 34 and is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24. The occurrence of suicide spans all socioeconomic classes, races and both genders.
Suicide is preventable. In fact, there are more suicide attempts each year than there are completed suicides. The SPRC reports there are 12 attempted suicides for every completed suicide.
Suicide is not something that happens "over there" or only to non-DOD personnel. Suicide affects our military members as well as our civil servants and our contract partners. The key to reducing the occurrence of suicide rests in prevention.
The Department of Defense uses the acronym ACE to help people remember the suicide prevention steps.
- A stands for Ask. Ask the question, "Are you thinking of harming your self or others?"
- C stands for Care. If some informs you they do have thoughts of harming them self, calmly take control of the situation. Then, remove any object that could be used by the person to harm them self. Next, show you genuinely care for the person and have an interest in reducing their stress by listening to what they say.
- E stands for Escort. Escort the person to seek help at the local mental health clinic or chaplain office. Never leave the person alone.
Another source anyone can talk to is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-TALK (8255), press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line.
Locally, you can call (661) 277-5291 to talk to someone.
Everyone has the responsibility to prevent suicide. Many professionals who work with people who have thoughts of suicide report that seeking help for suicide is a sign of strength, not weakness. While September has been named as suicide prevention month, suicide prevention is a year-round campaign.