Med Group offers Suicide Prevention Tips

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Robins Air Force Base is taking the opportunity to educate people on the subject.

Capt. Clinton Comer, 78th Medical Operations Squadron psychology provider, said certain groups are at higher risk than others.

"Anyone with a significant imbalance of risk and protective factors is vulnerable," he said. "However, the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that those aged 45 to 64 have the highest suicide rates.      

"Also, the rate for males is about four times that of females," he added.

CDC data showed whites have the highest suicide rates and American Indians and Alaska natives have the second highest suicide rates.

Comer said the belief that suicides are more frequent around winter holidays isn't true.

"National suicide rates tend to be highest in the spring months, peaking in April, and are below average during the winter months, with the lowest rate in December," he said. 

The captain said currently there isn't a clear explanation of how suicide rates and the time of year correlate.

"Because suicide rates have increased over the past 12 to 14 years, it's an important topic," Comer said. Being aware of people and what's normal for them is a way to combat the problem.

"You want to look for things like someone appearing sad or depressed, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating that doesn't go away, neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance, and withdrawing from friends, family or society," Comer said. "Another sign could be a sudden unexpected switch from being very sad and calm to appearing happy."

Comer said suicide prevention starts with having relationships with the people around you.

If you have concerns, ask if the person is considering suicide. 

"This won't plant the idea in their head - another common myth," Comer said. "After you ask, be ready to care for them by staying calm, listening and not judging. Last, you want to escort them to the chain of command or a helping professional." Comer said you shouldn't leave the person alone nor drive the individual in your personal vehicle.

Comer said people can enlist the help of a supervisor, coworker, or the unit's first sergeant to help. Call 911 in emergency situations. Robins' helping agencies are accessible through the "You Matter" desktop icon on base computers, on the Robins website, Facebook and intranet pages. Active-duty service members can be escorted to the Mental Health Clinic, 478-327-8398, during duty hours or the nearest hospital emergency room after duty hours.