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2020 Annual Suicide Prevention Training

Dr. Stephanie Grant, LCSW, 144th Fighter Wing Director of Psychological Health

Stephanie Grant, PhD, LCSW, 144th Fighter Wing Director of Psychological Health

Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif. --

Dear Airmen,

The 2020 Annual Suicide Prevention training looks a little different this year. With the very unusual year we’ve all experienced, I think you will find the current format to be a good fit. Some of you may have already completed the training, but for those of you who have not yet, let me explain what it will look like. You will be meeting in small groups within your squadrons and provided talking points to discuss. This training will provide an opportunity for you to think with your teams and fellow wingman about how you can respond to difficult or challenging situations. 

Last month we celebrated Suicide Prevention Month and the theme for this year is #ConnectToProtect. Building meaningful connections with each other is an important tool to not only to prevent suicide, but connections also encourage people to get help when needed. We know that stress is common in our everyday lives, and this year has provided an extra dose! Sometimes, stressors can be so overwhelming that people may lose their ability to cope and handle daily issues. When that happens, a person may need some extra support. In your small groups, you will discuss important signs to watch out for. These may happen within yourself or a wingman. It’s important to recognize them and know when it is time to seek help. You will also explore valuable strategies to increase your coping skills and tools to build up resilience.

Remember that anytime someone says they are thinking about ending their life, it should be taken seriously. The individual should be escorted to a trained professional and assessed. Sometimes having thoughts about suicide is an emergency situation, but sometimes it isn’t. In fact, oftentimes cases of suicidal ideation do not require an emergency hold or calling the police. The individual may be overwhelmed with anxiety or depression symptoms, but with some counseling and care, suicidal ideation may be resolved. In either case, a trained professional should be the person to make that assessment. One of the reasons I want to share this idea is because people are often afraid to tell someone when they overwhelmed or depressed and thinking about death or suicide. It’s so important to seek help early – before a situation becomes a crisis.

For the past five years I’ve seen the amazing work that each of you do here at the Wing, and I know that schedules can sometimes be very hectic. I want to encourage you to make this training a priority. Please use the time you have in small groups to brainstorm this important topic and contribute to the conversation. Stay engaged, share your thoughts, and listen well.

As always, the 144th FW CARE team is here to support you. If you’re struggling or need assistance please do not hesitate to reach out to us. On the sidebar, I have included some links and additional resources.

Stay well, make connections, and seek help early.