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One small act can save a life

Suicide Prevention Month is a prime opportunity for the U.S. Department of Defense and the Military Health System to raise public awareness of suicide risk among Service members, Veterans and beneficiaries Suicide Prevention Month is a prime opportunity for the U.S. Department of Defense and the Military Health System to raise public awareness of suicide risk among Service members, Veterans and beneficiaries.

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Suicide Prevention

The Navy’s message for Suicide Prevention Month is again “1 Small ACT.” This message promotes that simple, everyday actions can save lives by using the Navy’s ACT (Ask, Care, Treat) bystander intervention model. 

“One life loss to suicide is one too many,” said Navy Lt. Holly Vickers, Naval Hospital Pensacola’s suicide prevention coordinator. “Our goal is to raise awareness of suicides in the military and to educate everyone on suicide warning signs and risk factors.”

There are no specific demographics associated with suicides, but there may be warning signs that can be observed by those in contact with someone contemplating suicide. Acting withdrawn, displaying decreased work performance, showing lack of focus or consuming increased amounts of alcohol may be signs of someone who needs help, but it is also possible a person will show little or no signs of suicide. 

According to Vickers, if you suspect someone is contemplating suicide, the best thing to do is confront them and ask them if they are OK, which is the first part of ACT. If the person says they are thinking of committing suicide or you suspect they are, there are resources available to both individuals contemplating suicide and bystanders. Those resources include command chaplains, Fleet and Family Support Centers, physicians and social workers. Individuals can also call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text 838255, or visit for confidential, free support, 24/7. 

There are many factors that may lead a person to contemplate suicide such as financial problems, relationship issues or depression, but all of these have a common factor of producing stress. Understanding and managing stress cannot only help prevent suicides, but can improve a person’s overall quality of life. 

“Everyone’s stress tolerant is different,” said Navy Lt. Louis Sanchez, a licensed clinical social worker at NHP. “If you feel you are getting stressed, take a step back, take a deep breath and work one problem at a time.”

According to Sanchez, common symptoms of stress include not coming to work on time, acting forgetful, being irritable or simply just not acting their normal self. Someone who may be happy go lucky all the time may act depressed for long periods of time or has an unusual quick temper. 

“If you feel like you can’t control your stress, talk to someone that can help like a chaplain or your physician,” said Sanchez. “At Naval Hospital Pensacola, we have behavior health consultants, social workers and psychologists who can help patients learn to manage stress.” 

Sanchez also recommends prioritizing events that cause stress and to find ways to relax such as exercising or doing activities you enjoy. 

“When battling stress, its important take actions on items you control and make small gains rather than trying to accomplish everything at once,” said Sanchez. “It’s OK to make small gains and not everything on your to do list has to be accomplished at once.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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