ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Friends and family often wrestle with feelings of regret when losing a loved one to suicide.
Most are left wondering what they could’ve done to prevent the situation.
Robins’ Clinical Psychologist and Installation Suicide Prevention Program Manager, Capt. John Terry, said while suicide has a low base rate of occurrence and there are insufficient data to accurately predict those most at risk for suicide, there are things people can do to help.
“Suicides are caused by multiple factors and are rarely explained by a single event,” he said. “Several co-occurring factors including relationship or marital problems, financial, legal or disciplinary problems and mental health issues are risk factors for suicide. Preventing the accumulation of risk factors by engaging in Comprehensive Airmen Fitness is the best strategy to prevent risk for suicide. CAF consists of ensuring engagement in and balance between physical, social, spiritual and emotional resiliency.”
Terry said promoting CAF and ensuring a culture of Wingmanship are the best strategies to prevent suicide.
“Wingmanship increases awareness of risk factors that a fellow Wingman may experience and allows for action to be taken to ensure the individual seeks help,” he said. “The acronym ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) communicates the steps to ask if someone is having thoughts of suicide, demonstrate caring by listening to their concerns, and escorting them to an appropriate helping agency or supervisor.”
While there is no correlation between time of year and suicide, periods of transition or disruptions in social support networks can be times of concern, Terry said.
Know the Signs
1. Noticeable changes in a person’s behavior such as talking about suicide.
2. Increase in alcohol or drug use
3. Changes in mood
4. Withdrawal from family and friends
5. Problematic or excessive sleep
6. Seeking access to weapons
For more information on suicide prevention, visit the following websites:
• Air Force Medical Service
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
• Military One Source
• Wingman Toolkit