News: USFF conducts Suicide Prevention Coordinator training day
Story by Seaman Heather Brown
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – U.S. Fleet Forces Command held a Suicide Prevention Coordinator training day at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, March 28.
The training focused on equipping SPCs in the Hampton Roads area with the knowledge and capabilities to be a vital asset to their command and provide a robust suicide prevention program that will aid in reducing suicide attempts and behaviors.
Since 2010 suicide rates have increased by one third in the Navy, which is the highest rate since 1995. Attempts have gone up as well with 1,906 sailors showing suicide related behaviors last year compared to the 1,546 in 2010.
“This training is bringing us together as a big networking organization to save the lives of our sailors and celebrate a life worth living,” said Chief Petty Officer Elizabeth Metheny, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, SPC. “This is more than just training suicide awareness and informing the leadership and peers how to look for signs it’s about giving sailors a level of confidence to ask for help.”
Training topics included Navy’s Operational Stress Control, how to be a first responder, facts on suicide, the requirements of being an SPC, and other suicide prevention topics. The SPCs received the required Chief of Naval Operations SPC Basics Webinar.
“We want to ensure that our SPCs are confident about their duties and capable of providing the best help possible to our sailors in need,” said Jennifer Dolehite, USFF command suicide prevention program manager. “It’s important that we know the signs and symptoms of suicide so we can identify a problem before it becomes life threatening.”
One program the Navy uses to help their sailors is OSC. The program teaches sailors to recognize signs and symptoms of stress in themselves and other before it becomes too overwhelming and they contemplate suicide. It provides resources that aid sailors in managing their stress by teaching them how to ask for help, take care of themselves, to look after one another and to take action if they see others reacting negatively to stress.
One way to take action is by using the Ask, Care, Treat method.
“If you see someone showing suicidal signs ask them, 'Are you thinking about hurting yourself?' Then tell them why you asked and that you are concerned,” said Metheny.
“Caring reassures the person that they actually mean something to someone—then after caring, you treat by helping them find a source that can assist them, such as a doctor, a chaplain, or by calling the suicide hotline.
According to Dolehite, the best way to prevent suicide is through early recognition, to recognize depressed warning signs and to act on them.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists these typical warning signs upon which to take action: drug or alcohol abuse, outward aggression, sleep problems, taking unnecessary risks, giving away prized possessions, threatening suicide or a strong wish to die.
“There is hope,” Dolehite said. “When we are willing to take action and be an active bystander who becomes engaged it shows it may only take that one person to make a difference—we don’t want to lose anybody and we want people to know that they do have a purpose and life is worth living.”
For more information, go to www.suicide.navy.mil, www.militaryonesource.com, or www.navynavstress.com. The national suicide prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).