Take care of yourselves and each other
By Tech. Sgt. Laquanya Mason-Coyner, 460th Medical Group
/ Published September 24, 2015
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Suicide is a devastating event that can have a tremendously negative impact on our population, their families, and our mission.
Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, our civilian counterparts and their families are an essential part of the mission here at Buckley Air Force Base. We cannot succeed if we fail to take care of ourselves and each other. First, know yourself, be honest with yourself and listen to others. If you are down, angry or anxious more than in the past, get help. If you are sleeping less or more than usual, lose or gain appetite, or just don't have the motivation to excel that you once had, get help. You are often going to be the first one to realize something is different and you do not have to wait until you have thoughts of suicide before you get help. Buckley AFB has many resources standing by to assist you.
After we take care of ourselves we should also look out for each other. To do this we need to become familiar with the personalities and behavioral habits of those around us so that we can quickly identify any signs of distress. Early intervention is key! Signs of distress could include, but are not limited to, sleeping too much or too little, persistent or prolonged anxiety, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, decrease in work performance, increase in agitation or frustration, expressed feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, loss of interest in other activities and talk of suicide or death. Again, you do not have to wait until someone is talking about suicide before suggesting they get help.
If someone expresses feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of suicide you need to act fast! Expressed hopelessness implies that the individual feels there is no foreseeable solution to their problem. Therefore, the person could be at high risk for suicide. The tools needed to intervene on the individual's behalf are simple and easy to remember. Just think of the acronym ACE, which stands for Ask, Care and Escort. First, don't be afraid to ask the individual if they feel like harming themselves. Second is care. Remain calm and control the situation. Remove any means of harm to you or the individual without endangering yourself. Have a compassionate ear by actively listening to what the individual is telling you and do not rush to judgment. Finally, escort the individual to the appropriate resource. Never leave the individual alone and never promise secrecy. An individual thinking about suicide is not thinking logically and rationally. The person cannot be considered safe until they have been evaluated by a mental health professional. Escort them to their chain of command, chaplain, mental health, primary care, the emergency room, or call 911 and wait with them until help arrives.
Always feel free to call Buckley AFB Mental Health at 720-847-6451 for help and consultation. We are standing by to assist. Only by taking care of ourselves and each other can we hope to prevent suicides.