Each year, September marks Suicide Prevention Month, a time to highlight important messages about suicide risk and available treatments and resources. The Department of Defense theme for 2020 Suicide Prevention Month is “Connect to Protect” which highlights the important role that connections to family, friends, the community, and resources can play in preventing suicide. The goal is to encourage people to learn more about suicide warning signs, risk factors and supportive responses so they can be there for a family member, friend, or peer who may be at risk.
Mental health care teams in military clinics and commands around the world are busy planning suicide prevention activities, trainings, and resource fairs for September and PHCoE can help. Visit our 2020 Suicide Prevention Month webpage and find an array of resources including clinical tools and webinars for providers, patient and family handouts, information on firearm safety and storage, posters you can download and hang in your clinics, and a social media toolkit for public affairs teams.
Follow PHCoE’s Facebook page and Twitter page all month for daily posts with suicide prevention information and resources. Like, comment, and share our content on your channels with hashtags #BeThere and #ConnectToProtect. The Real Warriors Campaign, PHCoE’s anti-stigma mental health campaign, will also share suicide prevention information and resources throughout the month on its website and social media channels.
Order free hard copy materials for dissemination in your commands and clinics from PHCoE and the inTransition program. Real Warriors materials including a Suicide Prevention Tools for Warriors fact sheet, can also be downloaded or ordered for free at any time.
In September, our Clinician’s Corner blog series (for mental health providers who work with service members) will focus on characteristics of suicidal service members from the perspectives of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The series will also focus on suicide risk in health care providers and grieving suicide deaths. You can subscribe to receive new blogs to your email.
Drs. Holly Mash and James Naifeh from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences will review important suicide-related findings from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS) and its associated longitudinal study (STARRS-LS). Navy Lt. Cmdr. Stephanie Long from the 21st Century Sailor Office will outline notable characteristics of suicidal sailors revealed during the Navy’s annual Deep Dive review of suicide deaths. Dr. Greg Baima from the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency will discuss life stressors often observed in airmen who die by suicide and provide salient tips for health care providers. Ms. Sandy Morrison and Mr. Tomomi Owens, from Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs, will share key takeaways from Marine Corps suicide death reviews. In addition to these blogs from each of the services, PHCoE’s Laura Faulconer and I will examine suicide risk in health care providers and Dr. Julie Cerel from the University of Kentucky will discuss suicide postvention and grieving in the age of COVID-19.
To be successful and resilient in our clinical suicide prevention efforts, we must all band together in collaborative and supportive ways. In that spirit, we would like to acknowledge and applaud the efforts of those who work each day to provide care and support for service members and veterans struggling with suicidal thoughts and feelings. We hope that our Suicide Prevention Month communication tools and resources support your efforts and help you #ConnectToProtect for those in need.
Dr. Tucker is a research psychologist and suicide intervention subject matter expert at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence. She has master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology and has worked with service members hospitalized for suicide risk.
The views expressed in Clinician's Corner blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence or Department of Defense.