Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.
“Don’t go it alone” was my message last year and that message is still vitally important to anyone contemplating suicide. There is always help available for those struggling with emotional pain. And so, I want to remind you that the Coast Guard is here for you, just like it was here for a service member who felt there was no escape. Not long ago, Senior Chief Petty Officer Stacy Dasher found herself in peril and she thought about taking her own life. Fortunately, she reached out and got the help she needed, saving her life and allowing her to be with us today.
It was my honor and privilege to talk with Senior Chief Dasher last week. She travels nationwide to talk about how she overcame such a significant crisis in her life. It takes tremendous courage to share her story, and I am grateful for her willingness to use it for the benefit of others.
When I spoke with her, it was clear to me that she was sharing her story to remind us all that we are here to help one another. For Senior Chief Dasher, help first came from her spouse and then through our Coast Guard Family. Nobody is too junior or too senior to ask for help or ask others if they need help.
Some of you may be thinking that there is no hope or that seeking help means you are weak. There is always hope. Reaching out to others for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. Help may come from a loved one, a friend or a co-worker. If you are struggling, you are not alone. We will be there for you.
Watch out for each other and ask that hard question when you suspect that someone may be considering suicide. When we care about one another, we make it part of our duties to help others overcome all obstacles. Be the hand that reaches out and leads others toward help. Do not be afraid to intervene.
I often think of the Humanitarian Service Medal – on its face is a simple image of a single hand, extended, reaching out and waiting. Be that person who reaches out. Be that person to ask for help when you need it most. Someone will reach back.