Remember, ‘You Matter’ to Team Robins

  • Published
  • By Maj. Colin Burchfield
  • Director of Psychological Health
Have you thought about committing suicide? Do you know someone who has? Are you someone who has been affected by suicide?

Chances are, you answered "yes" to at least one of these three questions. In the United States, some statistics show that up to one in five people have seriously thought about committing suicide. Furthermore, every year, 750,000 people attempt suicide; 33,000 complete suicide.

Someone commits suicide every 17 minutes and someone attempts suicide every 40 seconds. On average, six people are affected by each suicide.

All of this means that suicide is a serious health hazard that affects an enormous number of people each year. It also means that you likely have thought about suicide, know someone who has thought about suicide, or have been affected by suicide in some manner. If you have not, there is a good chance you will...but, we at Robins would like to prevent any and all of those possibilities from happening at all.

As such, this article is written to you: the person who has been or could be affected by suicide. It is written to you because you are our primary means of prevention against this significant health hazard. Robins, particularly, requires as many "primary defenders" and "first responders" as we can get because suicide has been a truly critical problem here.

As you likely know, from the marquee signs entering the base or from the "bathroom readers" in stalls and around tool cribs on base, there were eight Team Robins suicides in 2008. Based on our population, this amounts to four times the national rate of suicides.

There are also some local statistics that show Houston County had the highest suicide rate in a 13 county radius - making suicide an endemic problem in this area. In fact, already in calendar year 2009, we have experienced the loss of one of our Team Robins members by suicide.

As our primary defenders and first responders in the fight to prevent suicide, you are the first to see the signs that someone might be considering suicide.

You know what those people around you are like -- when they are feeling good or are having a "normal" day.

And, you know what they are like when they are not feeling good or are having a bad day. You are the person who can reach out to them when you see that they are "off;" the person who can ask them if they have been having thoughts of suicide; and the person who can help them get the help they need. In short, when it comes to suicide prevention, you matter immensely.

Though vigilance for the signs of suicide and reaching out to people who are considering suicide is clearly important, it is not enough on its own. Our most recent Team Robins suicide victim, for example, had a wonderful Wingman who looked out for and reached out to him. However, this Wingman did not know that suicide was even a consideration for the victim. Given this, if you are thinking about suicide, please tell someone; it's okay to have that tough conversation.

As the statistics show, you are likely not alone in your thoughts. There are likely others around you who have had similar thoughts.

Furthermore, there are others who are willing to help and be there for you, even if you do not feel like it right now. They just need to be told that you need the help. Reach out; ask for help. It is there.

And, if someone asks you how you are feeling, tell them. You matter enough to let someone know! Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There are people who care enough to get you the help you need to solve that temporary problem. If you are considering suicide, whether you realize it or not, you are an integral part of our community.

Your importance is not limited to what you do on the job. Instead, it involves the impact that you make on an everyday basis.

Without you, loved ones lack an important source of feedback, support, and guidance.

Without you, friends lack an important source of camaraderie.

Without you, co-workers lack an important source of assistance through both difficult and easy times.

And, though often ignored, without you, even those you dislike lack an important source of counterbalance and competition. Simply put, you are important and you matter to everyone with whom you interact. If you are considering suicide, reach out and seek help...You matter!

If you are in distress, please contact one of the agencies listed above with people available to help. YOU MATTER!