Suicide awareness is a term some may feel has been over emphasized in recent times; however, the rate of suicide has increased over the past 11 years in the United States.
On average someone takes their own life every 12 minutes in the United States, and an average of 20 veterans commit suicide daily. Suicide is a dilemma for both the civilian and military population.
According to the World Health Organization over 800,000 people kill themselves yearly. Suicide was the second highest cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds in 2014.
Attempting to minimize or eradicate suicide, the Air Force has identified four key areas to increase awareness.
Early intervention, Wingman Concept, identifying risk factors, and ensuring All Airmen know how to intervene using the Ask, Care, Escort model, or ACE.
The goal for Airmen is for their training in these aspects to be sufficient enough to provide assistance to any Wingman in crisis.
Emphasis has been placed on early recognition and intervention so Airmen can elicit help and resolve issues before these concerns escalate to a crisis. Another important aspect of seeking help is identifying early warning signs. Everyone experiences anxiety and depression differently; as a result, warning signs vary from person to person.
Common warning signs a suicidal person might display: Increased alcohol use; relationship/financial/occupational problems; talking about suicide; decrease in interests; giving belongings away.
The ACE model is the Air Force framework for engaging with a Wingman when noticing changes in their behavior.
▪ Ask your Wngman. Have the courage to ask the question directly “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
▪ Care for your Wingman. Stay calm. Actively listen. Remove any means that could be used for self-injury.
▪ Escort your wingman. Never leave your buddy alone. Escort to one of the following resources: Chain of command, Mental Health Clinic, Command Post, Chaplain, Primary Care Provider or the National Suicide prevention lifeline, (800) 273-8255