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Suicide Prevention

Military life can be stressful for service members and their families. Everyone reacts to stress and traumatic experiences differently, and some may feel angry or isolated. These reactions can be common responses to life events, but, for some, these feelings may be signs of more serious conditions, including depression, traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. People coping with these concerns may feel like there is no escape from their symptoms, leading them to have thoughts of suicide. Deaths as a result of suicide are a preventable public health concern and a top priority for the Department of Defense (DoD). 

The Military Health System (MHS) works with military and civilian organizations to: 

  • Build awareness of suicidal behavior and risks, and 
  • Help service members and their families cope.  

We also promote programs that instill the skills needed to manage life’s challenges and encourage those with suicidal thoughts to seek help.

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Suicide Prevention spotlight: Military behavioral health technicians

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10/1/2019
Senior Airman Brandon Haag goes through new patient paperwork, Feb. 9, 2015, at the Mental Health clinic on Scott Air Force Base, Ill. A typical protocol when a new patient comes in is getting to know the background history of the patient to help them and the provider they will see know what will help in a crisis or difficulty. Haag is a 375th Medical Group mental health technician. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erica Crossen)

Suicide prevention is aided by behavioral health technicians in many settings

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Recognizing, acting on a cry for help to prevent the tragedy of suicide

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Suicide prevention is a year-round effort

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Navy Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Sebastian Castano, an assistant suicide prevention coordinator assigned to Naval Station Mayport, ties a yellow ribbon around a tree at Mayport Memorial Park in recognition of Suicide Awareness Month. Participants tied yellow ribbons to represent the 46 active duty Sailors lost to suicide in 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alana Langdon)

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Peterson Airmen save life

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Airmen 1st Class Brittany Wright and Tiffany Duffus, 21st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron dental lab technicians, tell their story of successfully responding to a friend with suicidal thoughts Aug. 22, 2019 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Both Airmen received the Air Force Achievement Medal and were asked to attend the Air Force Association National Convention in September. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)

Two Airmen from the 21st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron dental lab, successfully responded to a friend from another Air Force base with suicidal thoughts.

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Suicide Prevention Month: Changing the narrative

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Mental health technicians say one major way to change the cycle is to use success stories

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Suicide prevention: Eliminating the stigma

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Marines may feel lonelier during the holidays as a result of being away from their families and supporters. Behavioral health specialists report depression and suicide ideation rates increase during the holiday season and into the post-holiday period in the Marine Corps, according to the Headquarters Marine Corps Force Preservation Directorate. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Emotional pain is the same as physical pain, it needs treatment for it to be better

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Depression awareness: Reach out for yourself, and for others

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In memory of his younger brother, retired Army Master Sgt. Guillermo “Bill” Leal Jr. has devoted the past several years of his nursing career to helping wounded warriors. (Courtesy photo)

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Paying attention, knowing the signs: How teenagers can help save a life

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Air Force Maj. William Logan, a chaplain with the 35th Fighter Wing, holds a picture of his son, Zac, who committed suicide. Suicide among teenagers remains a concern. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter)

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Army observes September as Suicide Prevention Month

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Effective suicide prevention requires everyone to be aware of the risk factors for suicide and know how to respond. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

Every person has a responsibility and commitment to reach out and help

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Stopping bullying takes understanding, involvement

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Children can experience social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression as a result of bullying. From the Stop Bullying campaign to Military OneSource, resources are available to help parents and their families identify and address bullying (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)

Bullying can leave visible and invisible wounds and have lasting effects on children and teenagers. Signs of the behavior can vary, and bullying others and being bullied are not mutually exclusive, experts say.

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How sharing my PTSD struggles helped others—and me

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Army Sgt. Jon Harmon lost both legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device while on a 2012 Afghanistan mission. Today he speaks to commands and veterans about his personal struggle with mental health and how he works to overcome it. (Photo by Kevin Fleming, U.S. Army Sustainment Command)

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