Have you ever wondered how to help a shipmate who is struggling with depression or has expressed suicidal ideations? Those who joined the Twitter chat Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. EDT hosted by the Every Sailor, Every Day campaign from Navy Operational Stress Control’s (OSC) @NavStress Twitter page were able to get advice.
The Twitter chat was an opportunity for all audiences, including Navy family members, gatekeepers, military health organizations and others that serve the Navy community. To participate, individuals had to login to their Twitter account at the given day and time, and search #ACT2PreventSuicide. Including the hashtag in the questions and responses.
“The Twitter chat (#ACT2PreventSuicide) focused on how to apply Navy’s Ask Care Treat (ACT) model in everyday life,” Capt. Heidi Agle said, head of Navy Suicide Prevention and Operational Stress Control. “Topics included how to recognize risk factors and immediate warning signs of suicide in daily interactions — including on social media; how to start a conversation with someone who may be displaying warning signs; and how to reach out for help for yourself or others.”
According to the model, “Ask” if someone is depressed and is thinking about suicide; let them know that you “Care;” and get them assistance for “Treatment” as soon as possible.
The Twitter chat is just one example of the Navy’s efforts to promote Suicide Prevention Month and the importance of seeking help when it is needed. Rear Adm. Philip E. Sobeck, director, 21st Century Sailor Office (OPNAV-N17), shared a personal story about losing a shipmate to suicide in a recent video message.
“After losing my boss and in my career, other shipmates, I leaned on peers and crewmembers who were struggling as well,” he said. “But this is where I learned that the chaplain and family support centers were a safe place to ask ‘Why?,’ to learn how to cry and to cope, and even more importantly, to understand the effects of emotional trauma — especially if left unchecked. It was like physical therapy for my feelings… Bottom line, I needed to be connected and still do. There are a number of confidential support resources available to all of us at any time, whether we’re seeking help for a shipmate or ourselves.”
Those in need can also get help by either calling a military crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 or texting 838255, said Sobeck, adding that Sailors need to know the facts in reference to their security clearance and mental health.
“In fact, less than one percent of security clearance denials or revocations are related to mental health concerns,” Sobeck said.
Navy OSC’s blog notes that one of the many reasons why Sailors choose not to seek help for mental health concerns is fear that doing so will jeopardize their security clearance eligibility. However, having a psychological health condition or seeking professional help will not automatically disqualify someone for a security clearance.
According to the information on the blog, “Seeking help to promote personal wellness and recovery is a sign of the good judgement and reliability needed to maintain a security clearance.”
Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s annual cross-disciplinary case reviews indicate that a majority of Sailors who die by suicide experience a combination of stressors prior to death that have been historically associated with suicides in the Navy. These stressors include intimate relationship problems; loss or the death of a friend or loved one; a disrupted social network; disciplinary and/or legal issues; work problems, performance and conduct; sleep problems; and financial strain.
Since 1974, the American Association of Suicidology has recognized the week of Sept. 10th as National Suicide Prevention Week, which surrounds the International Association for Suicide Prevention’s World Suicide Prevention Day. In 2012, the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, through the Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) and Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services, expanded the weekly recognition to the entire month of September. Navy launched its first Suicide Prevention Month in Sept. 2012.
The Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s OSC blog has several resources for navigating stress:
You can visit www.suicide.navy.mil > Every Sailor, Every Day > Get Involved.
Navy Suicide Prevention Branch even has a “1 Small ACT Toolkit” which can be reached here.
For security clearances and mental health visit, https://navstress.wordpress.com/.
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