September is National Suicide Prevention Month:
Written by Lisa Teems, Employee Assistance Program Manager
Unfortunately, each year we lose valuable members of the Coast Guard family to suicide. Although it is difficult to understand why a particular individual may choose to end his or her life, we do know that creating an environment where there is trust and compassion can potentially make a difference for someone who is contemplating this difficult choice.
We all play a part in creating this type of culture, whether at work or at home. There are simple steps we can take to provide support and compassion to others. For example, when you see someone who may be struggling, take the time to listen and offer assistance. Ask yourself each day, “What is one positive thing I can do to make a difference in someone’s life or my unit’s well-being?” and then go out and do it. One word or simple act of compassion can make a huge difference and possibly save a life.
Over time, we will all face life circumstances that may test our ability to cope. Building emotional resilience can help us get through these challenges. You can build resilience by becoming engaged with events or activities that you enjoy and that you find meaningful. Involving family and friends in these activities will also strengthen those relationships and further build resiliency. These types of strategies improve our ability to cope with the stress of everyday life and are considered protective factors that can reduce the prospects of depression and, ultimately, suicide.
If you are struggling with thoughts of hopelessness, it is important that you talk to someone. Now. Asking for help is a sign of strength. A trusted friend, leader, chaplain, or family member may be able to assist, offer a different perspective, or help you consider other choices.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, individual and family stressors can become overwhelming; and seeking professional assistance is necessary. There are many sources of help for people having suicidal thoughts and for those dealing with a suicidal loved one. If there is an immediate chance of someone getting injured or if someone has attempted suicide, treat it as a medical emergency and call 911.
For additional information about suicide and resources for those in need of help, consider these programs and services:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-TALK at any time.
CG SUPRT: Call 855- CG SUPRT, 855-247-8778 at any time. This is the Coast Guard Employee Assistance Program, available to assist active duty members, reservists, civilian employees and family members will a full range of issues such as financial matters, relationship discord, and other stress that, if neglected, could lead to more serious consequences such as depression and suicidal thoughts. CG SUPRT can provide assistance in an emergency, offering counseling services and other appropriate resources for any problem you might be experiencing. You can also visit CG SUPRT online by going to http://www.cgsuprt.com
Coast Guard medical personnel and Work-Life Employee Assistance Program Coordinators are also available to assist.
The Chaplain corps is another valuable resource in the Coast Guard, contact at 1-855-USCG-CHC, 855-872-4242.
For additional information about suicide and the Coast Guard policies on suicide prevention and other Work-Life matters
Commanding officers and officers-in-charge are strongly encouraged to use this message as a starting point for unit discussion and education on this topic. Contact the Employee Assistance Program Coordinator in your District HSWL office.