Suicide Prevention Walk Brings H.O.P.E

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zoie Cox
  • 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Every day, approximately 123 individuals take their own lives in the United States. Of those individuals, U.S. military members and veterans make up 18 percent of adult suicides.

To help raise awareness and in an effort to prevent future suicides, Airmen, family and friends participated in the H.O.P.E. Walk at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, September 27, 2019.

 “We already know that the number of deaths by suicide is way too high, even one death is too many,” said Pamela Adams, 633rd Air Base Wing violence prevention integrator. “It is important to learn actual coping skills to help insulate and strengthen us from life’s predictable and sometimes unpredictable difficult moments, and proactive and reactive behaviors we can use when we sense someone is in trouble.”

The ‘Helping Our People Everyday’ Walk included stations set up throughout the route to teach and inform participants about the various helping agencies and resources available to Airmen and their families to use if they need help recognizing if they or someone they know needs help.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, knowing warning signs may help determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased or seems related to a painful event, loss or change.

According to the NSP Hotline, warning signs include:

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Being reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

“What may look like carefree, fun, daring behavior in your friend or colleague could actually be high risk behaviors that need to be addressed,” Adams said. “If someone is having suicidal thoughts, we cannot leave that person alone, or if on the phone, put them on hold. All ideation needs to be taken seriously.”

If you have identified a Wingman that may be considering suicide, it’s important to take all comments seriously, be an active listener and talk to them directly about what’s going on rather than waiting for things to escalate to the point of crisis.

 “Never underestimate or decide for someone else the impact of your positive, small actions, such as a smile, friendly hello, quick check in, a small note or token on a bad day or a helpful gesture or task,” Adams said. “If we all commit to doing one small thing like this daily, and I do believe we do much more of this than we realize, I have hope that we are Helping Our People Every Day, and we will make positive strides in decreasing our suicide numbers.”

The Violence Prevention Program sponsored the walk with the help of JBLE helping agencies to include the 633rd Air Base Wing Mental Health Clinic, the 633rd ABW chapel staff, Health Promotions, violence prevention trainers and the Hampton Veterans Affairs office.

For anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts, the Military Crisis Line can be reached at 800-273-TALK and is available 24/7 to connect callers to a certified crisis center. JBLE Command Post can be reached at 757-764-5411. The base chapel, mental health and the Airman and Family Readiness Center can also provide support and helpful information.