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Robins clinical psychologist shares how CAF, Wingmanship help prevent suicide

2018 Suicide Prevention

September marks Suicide Prevention Month. For information on suicide prevention and the tools used to help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Employee Assistance Program or Robins Mental Health.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

So often, suicide leaves friends and family in its aftermath wondering what they could have done to prevent their loved one’s death.

Did something happen to cause the person to choose suicide?

Capt. John Terry, a clinical psychologist and Installation Suicide Prevention Program manager at Robins, said suicides are caused by multiple factors and are rarely explained by a single event.

“Several co-occurring factors including relationship or marital problems, financial, legal/disciplinary problems and mental health issues are risk factors for suicide,” he said.

Terry said 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,” he said.

Promoting CAF and ensuring a culture of Wingmanship are the best strategies to prevent suicide, Terry said.

“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 escort them to an appropriate helping agency or supervisor.”

Noticeable changes in a person’s behavior such as talking about suicide, increased alcohol/drug use, changes in mood, withdrawal from family and friends, problematic or excessive sleep, and seeking access to weapons are all possible warning signs for suicide.

If you notice these signs in someone, step in and take the necessary steps to help prevent suicide.

For more information on suicide prevention and the tools mentioned above to help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the Employee Assistance Program at (800) 222-0364, or call Robins Mental Health at 478-327-8398. To find the Wingman Toolkit, visit http://wingmantoolkit.org/.