Resiliency is essential to withstanding life’s challenges

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs
Headlines announcing the death of actor, Robin Williams, proved to many that suicide can impact anyone.

Capt. Nicole Campbell, Robins Mental Health Clinic Suicide Prevention Program manager and psychology provider, said while suicide can affect people of all genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and ages, historically the rate is highest among older, Caucasian men.

A number of factors can put a person at a higher risk for suicide, Campbell said

"Suicide isn't the result of a single factor or event; however, a number of complex factors may interact to increase a person's risk," she said. "That can include relationship, financial and legal stressors. Individuals with mental health issues - particularly if there has been a history of suicide attempts, or substance abuse problems - may also be at risk for suicide. Individuals with a sense of powerlessness, negative social interactions, and academic or other life failure may be at risk."

Even so, many people experience those risks and don't choose suicide.

Although suicide prevention is often believed to be handled solely by mental health professionals, the reality is that each person knows the people around them better than a mental health provider may, Campbell said.

If you see significant changes in someone's behavior or appearance, and you feel comfortable talking with the person, you should intervene, Campbell said.

The Air Force Suicide Prevention Program uses the ACE model acronym to intervene with individuals at risk for suicide.

* A stands for Ask. Calmly ask the very direct question, "Are you thinking of killing yourself?"

* C stands for Care. If an individual expresses distress, calmly control the situation, demonstrate active listening and empathy to show understanding, and remove any means of self-harm if it is safe to do so.

* E stands for Escort. An individual who is expressing suicidal thoughts shouldn't be left alone. Instead, escort the individual to his or her chain of command, the chaplain, behavioral health provider or their primary care manager.

The National Crisis Line, (800) 273-8255, is available 24 hours a day, for anyone who wants to discuss his or her concerns.

The "I Matter, You Matter, We Matter" campaign emphasizes the importance of recognizing warning signs in oneself and others, knowledge and comfort with accessing available helping resources and sending the message that early help seeking should be encouraged at all levels to prevent suicides.

Campbell said resiliency training, coordinated by the Community Support Coordinator Lesley Darley, exists to emphasize the importance of strong mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness.

"In addition to the annual computer-based suicide prevention training required for all civilian and military employees, individuals in certain at-risk career fields - security forces, intelligence and manned-aircraft maintainers - are required to complete face-to-face suicide prevention training each year," she said. "The First Term Airmen Course and Airmen Leadership School both incorporate suicide prevention training. It's also taught during Civilian Newcomers' Orientation and most importantly, can be taught face-to-face by request from any unit on the installation."

Similarly, resiliency training is taught by Master Resilience Trainers and Resilience Trainer Assistants at the squadron level.

The Air Force Suicide Prevention Program has found that individuals with strong mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness has the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors.