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Cannon Hosts 2nd Annual Suicide Prevention 5K

Airmen run at the 2nd Annual Suicide Prevention 5K at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Sept. 07, 2018. There is one death by suicide every 12 minutes in the U.S. This event was held to bring attention to these facts. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Gage Daniel)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. This is a time for Airmen and others to focus on suicide prevention, and to remind them to take care of one another.

With all of the high profile suicides in recent years such as Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams and Kate Spade, it’s important to realize, regardless of someone’s success, position or status, suicide can affect anyone. According to the DOD quarterly suicide report, 85 Airmen were lost to suicide in 2017.

“Depression, hopelessness, giving things away, having no future plans and increase in drinking among many other things, are common signs of someone considering suicide,” said Master Sgt. Anita Garcia-McClintock, 27th Special Operations Medical Group mental health flight chief.

On top of many signs, there are several risk factors such as divorce, economic status changes and loss of rank or position.

Major changes in one’s life play large roles in suicide, such as loss of a family member and moving duty locations, explained Jennifer Hurtig, the 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron community programs and peer network coordinator with Preservation Of The Force and Family.

There are various warning signs and risk factors that could push someone to suicide but there are ways to prevent it.

“The best thing for you to do is listen and take it seriously,” said Garcia.

The Air Force has many programs to help prevent suicide such as A.C.E., Ask, Care, Escort. Ask your wingman; have the courage to ask the question and remain calm. Care for your wingman; calmly control the situation, listen to what they have to say and remove any means that could be used for self-injury. Escort your wingman; never leave them alone and escort them to the proper means of help such as the chaplain, first sergeant or behavioral health professional.

“We have an obligation to aid our wingman and it is a privilege to be able to do so,” Garcia said.

As Airmen we are one-another’s first line of help in situations like these. Sometimes that means contacting the proper means of help for them.

“Many people believe seeking help will affect their career, but [most often]

there are no repercussions,” Garcia said. “We talk to the individual, gauge the situation and if there are no signs of personal or job safety on the line, no one needs to know. We like to protect our patients’ confidentiality.”

Mental Health is open to anyone seeking help from thoughts of suicide. They also raise awareness for suicide and its prevention through events on base.

This month, Cannon held a suicide prevention dodgeball match and hosted a 5K run with booths and games set up throughout the course to provide information on suicide.

On Sept. 15th, 2018, there will be an ‘Out of the Darkness’ walk with community members at the Clovis Aquatic Center to raise awareness for suicide. Check-in time is at 8:00 A.M. and the walk begins at 10:00 A.M.

“One loss to suicide is one too many,” Hurtig said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, there are many avenues to get help.

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255. Or say “Hey Siri, call the Veterans Crisis Line.” (Also works with the Google Assistant Function)

BeThere: Chat online- https://www.betherepeersupport.org/

Call- 844-357-PEER

Text- 480-360-6188