ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE — An airman can complete his or her physical fitness test run in 10 minutes. An airman can be dressed and ready to go in a uniform in 10 minutes. Email can be checked. Parents can be called. A lot can happen, even a life can be saved in 10 minutes.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, dedicated to teach airmen about the subject and try to bring hope and enlightenment to people at risk. In a crisis, time is critical. According to the 97th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Clinic, 10 minutes can make a difference between life and death.
“If, in the first 10 minutes someone’s thinking about suicide, someone can intervene or something can happen, then the idea may go away or it’s not as strong,” said Air Force Senior Airman Monica Howard, a 97th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician. “If you can get through that first 10 minutes, then you can get through it and get the help that you need.”
Speaking of help, Suicide Prevention Month also allows different organizations to demonstrate how people, organizations, and communities work together to support service members in times of crisis. But just what could place a person at risk for suicide?
“A plethora of different life events could contribute to that idea that suicide is even an option,” Howard said. “So many factors could go into it; finances, family, career, drinking, just to name a few. Everybody deals with things differently so it depends on how they’re affected personally. By building resilience, we make suicide less of an option.”
Airmen struggling with suicide sometimes tell friends or family members. As good wingmen, others are encouraged to ask the tough questions, care about the wingmen, and escort them to help if they need it. While cries for help vary, those who know someone who’s at risk have some options of reporting.
“We always have walk-in appointments, and you can call us,” Howard said. “If you know a member and don’t think you can get them to come in you can contact their first sergeant. We can contact their first sergeant and have them bring the member in.”
Some other resources for people at risk or a wingman wishing to report include the emergency room, Command Post, Military One Source, the Military Crisis Line, 911 and the Military Family Life Consultants at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
The campaign for Suicide Prevention Month 2016 is #BeThere, encouraging people to think about ways they can help themselves, a service member, veteran or beneficiary feel less alone. The theme also emphasizes helping people who are having thoughts of suicide find resources.
Every airman should be ready to deploy as airmen warriors by staying mentally, spiritually and physically fit, sometimes they just need a little help to stay resilient. But something for every airman, wingman and family member to remember, 10 minutes may just save a life.
For those seeking help the Mental Health Clinic and MFLC is able to offer assistance, for an emergency contact the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.