September is Suicide Prevention month. Although suicide prevention is an everyday effort, every September there are highlighted events around the world that draw attention to the hard work organizations and individuals are doing and can do to help combat this global epidemic.
Here at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) we are working diligently to provide up-to-date trainings to military and civilian behavioral health professionals on how to assess and treat military personnel and family members who are in distress. One question that is often asked of CDP faculty is “What are the available resources related to suicide prevention efforts?” There are an abundance of resources available. Below is a summary of civilian and military resources for suicide prevention as well as specific events and key dates for 2012's Suicide Prevention month.
The 10th Annual World Suicide Prevention Day is on the 10th of September, 2012. The theme this year is "Suicide Prevention across the Globe: Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope". World Suicide Prevention Day is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). Individuals can find out more about this year’s event on the IASP website (http://www.iasp.info/wspd/). You can download a World Suicide Prevention Day Toolkit and Press Package, read about World Suicide Prevention Day activities around the world, download World Suicide Prevention 2012 Facts and Figures, and even request a certificate of appreciation for participating in World Suicide Prevention Day. The IASP website provides a list of activities that individuals and/or organizations can participate in to support World Suicide Prevention Day to include: holding conferences, disseminating research findings, launching new initiatives, policies, and strategies related to suicide prevention, and distributing leaflets or other written materials.
The 38th Annual National Suicide Prevention week is September 9th-15th, 2012. The theme for this year’s week-long event is “Collaborations in Suicidology: Bridging the Disciplines.” National Suicide Prevention Week is sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). You can find the National Suicide Prevention Week Media and Information Kit at the AAS website (nspw.suicidology.org/). You can also see what other organizations are planning for this year’s event.
The Army Suicide Prevention Program has a comprehensive list of suicide prevention information on their website (http://www.preventsuicide.army.mil) to include policy guidance, frequently asked questions, training links, references/resources, and a Commander’s Tool Kit. In addition, you can also find a link to information pertaining to the Army’s 2012 Suicide Prevention Month efforts (http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/spmonth/default.asp). In support of the 2012 Suicide Prevention Month, the Army will be conducting an Army-wide Suicide Prevention Stand-Down. The theme of the event is “Shoulder to Shoulder, We Stand Up For Life". Additionally, the Army will host its annual Health Fair in the Pentagon courtyard on 12-13 September, 2012. Visit their website for more information on Suicide Prevention Month activities, training resources, talking points, posters, and other relevant information.
The Air Force Suicide Prevention Program (AFSPP) website (http://afspp.afms.mil) provides an overview of the AFSPP and also has links to relevant policy/guidance, resources, suicide prevention videos, an outreach/communication toolkit, frequently asked questions about suicide, as well as many other resources. In addition, the Air Force recently released a Virtual Wingman smart phone app (http://www.airforcevirtualwingman.com/tier4/) and a newly revised Airman’s Guide for Assisting Personnel in Distress (http://airforcemedicine.afms.mil/idc/groups/public/documents/webcontent/knowledgejunction.hcst?functionalarea=LeadersGuideDistress&doctype=subpage&docname=CTB_205851).
The Navy’s Suicide Prevention Program website (http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/suicide_prevention/Pages/default.aspx) has resources for Commanders/Leaders as well as resources for other individuals. There are links to informational handouts to include “Seven Everyday Ways to Promote Suicide Prevention Awareness” and “Truths about Sailors and Suicide”. There are also links to training resources, prevention facts, and other suicide prevention resources.
The Marine Corps Suicide Prevention Program (MCSPP) website (http://www.usmc-mccs.org/suicideprevent/index.cfm) has information about the MCSPP as well as their “Never Leave a Marine Behind” suicide prevention training. There are links for resources and information as well as specific links for Marines and Family, Command and Leaders, and Health Professionals. The website also provides a link to the Marine Corps DSTRESS Line (http://www.dstressline.com/) that was developed by the Marine Corps to provide professional, anonymous counseling for Marines, attached Sailors, and families. The DSTRESS Line (1-877-476-7734) allows callers to seek assistance 24/7/365 from “one of their own” such as veteran Marines, former Fleet Marine Force Corpsmen, or civilians with exposure or specialized training in Marine Corps culture.
The Coast Guard’s Suicide Prevention (CGSUPRT) Program website (http://www.uscg.mil/worklife/suicide_prevention.asp) provides information about the purpose of the GCSUPRT Program, services/resources available, and related hotlines and websites. The website also provides information on the toll free number (855)-CGSUPRT (247-8778) that is available to Coast Guard members 24/7 to assist with mental health emergencies.
In addition to the above information, there is also additional information specific to Reserve and National Guard Members on their websites:
Air Force Reserve: http://afrc.wingmantoolkit.org/
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention website (http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/) has information on the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, and press 1 or text to 838255) that Veterans and their loved ones can call 24/7/365 to receive free, confidential support. Veterans Chat offers a similar service, but via online chat. Both services can be used even if individuals are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. The website also has information about suicide warning signs, suicide prevention resources, brochures and information sheets, and campaign material. Additionally, individuals can locate their local Suicide Prevention Coordinator and/or download and print information sheets, posters, or editable contact and event flyers.
The DoD/VA Suicide Outreach website (http://www.suicideoutreach.org/) has information about suicide as well as links to self-assessments, a wellness library, PSA videos, resources, and news/reports. Links to the DoD Suicide Event Report (DoDSER) annual reports are also available. There is also information about the Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center where service members, veterans, families, leaders and health care providers can communicate via phone, email, instant messaging, chat or fax with a Health Resource Consultant 24/7/365 to get connected to resources on psychological health and traumatic brain injury (TBI) issues. The DCoE Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via email at Resources@DCoEOutreach.org and athttp://www.dcoe.health.mil.
The Real Warriors Suicide Prevention website (http://realwarriors.net/) has information/resources for service members, veterans, families, and health professionals. The Real Warriors Campaign, launched by DCoE in 2009, is a multimedia public awareness campaign designed to encourage help-seeking behavior among service members, veterans and military families coping with invisible wounds.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: www.afsp.org
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA), the public policy program of AFSP, that is dedicated to preventing suicide through public education and awareness, community engagement, and federal, state and local grassroots advocacy: http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=742A7AD2-C8D5-C18D-0A2665B3F8977D99
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: www.sprc.org
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS): TAPS is the 24/7 tragedy assistance resource for anyone who has suffered the loss of a military loved one, regardless of the relationship to the deceased or the circumstance of the death: www.taps.org or 800-959-TAPS
Individuals in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24/7 and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.