Suicide Prevention Month: One Voice Missing

  • Published
  • By Mental Health Flight
  • 66th Medical Squadron
Gathered together in the cool misty morning, the band of warriors prepare for the day's battle. The objective was well planned and clearly explained, the gear was assembled, supplies organized and weapons ready. As on the previous day, they stand shoulder to shoulder and utter their war cry. But this day is different; there is one voice missing.

Questions such as, "Why?", "Did we miss the signs?" and "What could we have done?", were asked. While the answers to these questions are important, the unfortunate truth is that despite our best efforts, we may not be able to prevent all suicides. Over the past two years, more than 100 total force Airmen -- active duty, Air Reserve component and civilians -- have committed suicide. Each of these members had a voice, and one voice missing is too many.

We are an Air Force under great demands. Now, more than ever, we are asked to do more with less and operate under stress at a high ops prolonged wartime tempo. Add to this the complexities of youth, such as living away from home, relationship issues, economic strain, educational pressure and shrinking opportunities, it is no wonder why some Airman find themselves stretched to the limit.

Also, for many of us, we spend more time in front of computers, playing video games, social networking and emailing than building interpersonal relationships and friendships. We must remember--both as a force and as individuals--we are in this together. Make it your mission to create an environment that encourages relationship building, know your people and take care of each other.

Taking care of each other is not about rank, title or position, but building appropriate relationships and recognizing the value in the human resource. We challenge each one of you to re-examine the way you interact with your coworkers. For example, talk face-to-face versus sending emails, get to know as many people in your work space as possible and get involved. Knowing each other on a personal level strengthens our community and, most importantly, helps identify those in need and at risk for suicide.

Hear the voice of the stressed Airman that works next to you and get to know them well enough to help. Hanscom has a number of resources to assist, mainly the Mental Health Flight, Chaplain Services, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and the Military Family Life Consultants. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it shows wisdom and good judgment by using the available resources to resolve issues early. It can save a life.

As the Airman's Creed goes, "I am an American Airman: Wingman, Leader, Warrior. I will never leave an Airman behind. I will never falter. And I will not fail."

For more information on services offered by the Mental Health Flight, call 781-377-4791.

Also, Military OneSource provides numerous resources including counseling. Visit them online at for additional information.