Back to Top Skip to main content

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

Suicide Prevention Month graphic Suicide Prevention Month graphic

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — In 2000, Kevin Hines jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, spanning San Francisco Bay, California, and plunged 245 feet at 75 miles per hour, hitting the water in four seconds.

Hines survived his suicide attempt with the help of a sea lion, which kept him afloat until the Coast Guard arrived.

Prior to Hines’ leap, indicators existed for others to recognize and act on a cry for help to prevent him from crossing the suicide threshold. For example, a passerby, requesting he take her photograph, did not notice his tearful eyes nor inquire about his well-being. In addition, on the pathway to the bridge, site workers and a police officer walked past a weeping Hines, but did not stop to offer compassion.

Prior to leaving the bridge rail, Hines admitted to himself, if anyone expressed care for him, he would not have jumped.

On a daily basis, an average of 123 suicides occur in America, resulting in it being the 10th leading cause of death in our nation. Similarly, those who serve our country in uniform are not immune to this tragedy. For example, 325 active-duty service members took their own lives in 2018, tragically surpassing any previous year of record. Unfortunately, suicide continues to devastate America’s military ranks. Last month, the Air Force announced a “tactical pause” in operations for 45 days to address the tragic increase in airmen suicides.

USTRANSCOM Command Chaplain, Army Lt. Col. George Wallace, has also been impacted by the tragedy of suicide. While serving as a brigade chaplain with the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia, from 2010-2012, Wallace helped comfort family members, fellow Army members, and friends of several soldiers assigned to the unit who took their own lives.

“There were telltale signs they were going to commit suicide such as giving away prized possessions, but nobody recognized or acted on the indicators,” said Wallace. “In the military, we’re accustomed to externalizing or ignoring pain, and our culture at large is not well practiced in identifying and working with emotional pain.”

For 15 years, Wallace has taught suicide intervention techniques, often employing books and films such as “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression” by Andrew Solomon, as well as “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” starring Tom Hanks, and “Wild” featuring Reese Witherspoon, which tell the stories of nine-year old Oskar Schell and Cheryl Strayed, who battled and overcame life crises, respectively.

Individual(s) needing immediate help can contact the Military/Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, Press 1, or text 838255.

Additional information may be found at Health.mil, the Veteran’s Crisis Line and the USTRANSCOM Crisis Action Resource List.

“Compassion, but also a fierceness and toughness, is needed to combat suicide. A caring wingman, battle buddy, or shipmate should be astute enough to see when or if something is not right. If you see something unusual in the person’s behavior or attitude about life, then say something,” Wallace stated. “You can be the difference between life and death.”

USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the joint force, advance American interests, and provide our nation's leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options and create multiple dilemmas for adversaries.

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

You also may be interested in...

Suicide Prevention spotlight: Military behavioral health technicians

Article
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

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention is a year-round effort

Article
9/18/2019
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)

The ultimate goal is to not get to a crisis situation – it’s to prevent suicide by building resilience

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Peterson Airmen save life

Article
9/6/2019
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.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Month: Changing the narrative

Article
9/4/2019
Suicide Prevention Month graphic

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

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention: Eliminating the stigma

Article
1/10/2019
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

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Depression awareness: Reach out for yourself, and for others

Article
10/17/2018
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)

There’s hope, and help, for a common condition

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

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

Article
9/27/2018
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)

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, young adults

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Children's Health | Suicide Prevention

Army observes September as Suicide Prevention Month

Article
9/24/2018
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

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Kristin Gwin, Walter Reed Social Worker Talks About Getting Help

Video
9/12/2018
Kristin Gwin, Walter Reed Social Worker Talks About Getting Help

Kristin Gwin, a Social Worker at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center understands that getting help can be an intimidating process. She offers advice on how to get started by letting a professional know you want help.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Suicide Prevention

Stopping bullying takes understanding, involvement

Article
9/7/2018
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.

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Children's Health | Suicide Prevention

How sharing my PTSD struggles helped others—and me

Article
9/4/2018
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)

Army Sgt. Jon Harman 82nd Airborne Division, liaison officer at Walter Reed Military Medical Center

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Mental Health Care | Suicide Prevention | Men's Health

Suicide Prevention Month 2018

Video
9/4/2018
Suicide Prevention Month 2018

September is Suicide Prevention Month. No one fights the battle alone. Make it your mission to #BeThere for each other.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Defense Suicide Prevention Office

Presentation
11/1/2016

Defense Suicide Prevention Office briefing for the Defense Health Board, Nov. 1, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Shattered Mirror

Photo
9/21/2016
Army Private 1st Class Luselys Lugardo, a soldier assigned to the New Jersey Army National Guard, poses in front of a shattered mirror for a portrait. The shattered glass represents the way suicide hurts families, friends and coworkers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Army Private 1st Class Luselys Lugardo, a soldier assigned to the New Jersey Army National Guard, poses in front of a shattered mirror for a portrait. The shattered glass represents the way suicide hurts families, friends and coworkers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Be There: Help Save a Life

Video
9/14/2016
Be There: Help Save a Life

Whether you have a minute or an hour, a simple act of kindness can help someone feel less alone. The U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense have created a video to show how small actions can have a huge impact on Veterans and Service members who might be going through a difficult time.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 4

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.