By Rear Adm. Rick Snyder
Director, 21st Century Sailor Office
September is Navy Suicide Prevention Month and the launch pad for year-long engagement across the Navy, ultimately fostering sustainable efforts that support open communication, resilience and seeking help as a sign of strength. We’re all in this together.
Suicide affects everyone, and suicide prevention is an all hands effort – all of the time. We can make a difference through our everyday actions. In September, we join the global community to highlight suicide prevention.
Last September, we focused on what we can do as communities to support and help our shipmates. This year, we’ll zero in on what we can do as individuals, on a daily basis, to continue that support.
The 2014 Navy Suicide Prevention Month theme is “Every Sailor, Every Day.” We are encouraging every member of our Navy team, from shipmates, to leaders, to civilian employees, to family and friends, to set a positive example, reach out and engage with one another. Building resilience and preventing suicide require all of us to actively communicate with each other, and not just when we think someone is in immediate danger. Everyday actions, that foster trust and build meaningful connections, can start or continue conversations so we can more effectively intervene when we see signs of a shipmate in distress. By actively communicating and staying engaged, we may be more likely to notice small signs of distress in our shipmates and intervene early, before a crisis occurs.
I challenge you to be there for Every Sailor, Every Day, through meaningful, intentional actions. Take time to ask others how they are doing—and actively listen. As Vice Adm. Nathan, Navy Surgeon General, reminds us, we must especially connect with those who are transitioning from one job to another, experiencing career setbacks or some sort of loss, or going through relationship troubles. Start a dialogue to support each other during stressful times. Share strategies to navigate challenges, including speaking up and seeking help. We are a Navy team, and none of us are ever alone.
Another way you can support “Every Sailor, Every Day” is by Pledging to ACT (Ask, Care, Treat). It’s a voluntary commitment to yourself and others, and one of the many ways we can be there for every Sailor, every day, by every Sailor, every day. Visit https://survey.max.gov/index.php/437524/lang-en to “Pledge to ACT” today, and urge your shipmates to do the same.
I encourage commands to highlight Suicide Prevention Month in their own way. Talk about bystander intervention, peer support and the many ways each of us can lead by example when it comes to physical and psychological health, showing that it’s okay to speak up when you’re down.
Resources will be released on www.suicide.navy.mil throughout the month to support your efforts. Each day, we have an opportunity to make a difference—and those opportunities may end up saving lives.
For more information and various resources for Navy Suicide Prevention Month, visit www.suicide.navy.mil.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is just a call or click away. Call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (option 1) or visit www.veteranscrisisline.net.