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‘Got your 6’: Watching your wingman’s back

  • Published
  • By Airman Rhett Isbell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

September is Suicide Prevention Month and was established to help raise awareness of those at risk of suicide and how to help them.

Creating an open discussion of mental health issues and how to remove the stigma of receiving help because of those issues is the goal of SPM.

“I’ve seen a lot of instances where people took their lives and it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” said Elizabeth Bishop, 19th Airlift Wing violence prevention manager. “If someone is suicidal, they often feel overwhelmed by the pain of problems affecting them in the moment. The number one piece of advice I can give for those individuals is that they need to reach out for help.”

Recently, the topic of suicide has been transitioning from a mental health discussion to a public health point of interest. This stems from the realization that individuals at-risk for suicide may be able to be identified and more immediately helped in the beginning by members of the public.

Some suicide warning signs include talking about death or suicide, withdrawing from friends and family, abusing drugs or alcohol, acting recklessly or giving away prized possessions.

“Getting care is a key factor in getting better,” said Capt. Barbara McLeod, 19th Medical Operations Squadron clinical psychologist. “The concerns that can make people vulnerable to suicide are treatable and that very treatment can help people rediscover the strength, resilience and hope that might feel out of sight during a crisis. Whatever resource a person may access – Primary care manager, mental health provider, a chaplain, a spouse or a friend – the most important part is making sure you take the first step and ask for help. It’s here for you.”

Helping Team Little Rock can be accomplished by service members coming together and being there for each other in their times of need. Many people can become vulnerable to depression or other symptoms that can cause suicidal tendencies. It’s important to know what these symptoms are, to identify them and help someone in need.

“Most of the time the people who prevent suicide are young Airmen who see the signs in their friends,” McLeod said. “Giving everyone the knowledge and ability to react to that possibility is what’s most important.”

For the National Suicide Prevention Crisis Line, call 1 (800) 273-8255

For the Mental Health Clinic, call (501) 987-7338