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Suicide prevention epitome of wingman concept

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Buckley mental health technicians push to raise awareness and provide resources to prevent suicides.

Suicide awareness and prevention is crucial throughout the Air Force. Airmen are being reminded to be vigilant and take care of their wingmen.

"We really focus on putting the information out there and letting people know about the signs and symptoms of suicide," said Tech. Sgt. Laquanya Mason-Coyner, Buckley mental health flight chief. "It's a reminder to take care of each other."

The acronym ACE has been fashioned to help remember the steps for assisting a wingman.

Ask your wingman: Have the courage to ask, but stay calm. Ask the question directly: Are you thinking about killing yourself?

Care for your wingman: Calmly control the situation, do not use force and be safe. Actively listen to show understanding and produce relief. Remove any means that could be used for self-injury.

Escort your wingman: Never leave someone alone. Escort to first sergeant, Chaplain, behavioral health professional or primary care manager. Call the National Suicide Prevention Life Line.

"Don't be afraid to ask the question," said Staff Sgt. Jackson Josey, Buckley alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment NCO in charge. "A lot of people are afraid that if they ask, they might put the idea in the person's head, which is not true at all."

Signs of distress can be any of the following, but are not limited to: physical stress, behavioral issues, emotional distress and cognitive strain, according to the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program.

All situations are unique, but one thing must be remembered: no one is alone. Resources are always available, including the mental health clinic, chaplains, military and family life consultants, first sergeants, and commanders. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

For more local resources on suicide prevention click here.

(Information from the Airman's Guide for Assisting Personnel in Distress was used in this article.)

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