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September is Suicide Awareness Month: ACT!

ACT: ASK- Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you thinking about harming yourself?” CARE - Tell them that you care and don’t leave the person alone. TREAT- Get TREATMENT and seek out assistance as soon as possible.

ACT: ASK- Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you thinking about harming yourself?” CARE: Tell them that you care and don’t leave the person alone. TREAT: Get TREATMENT and seek out assistance as soon as possible.

By Dr. J. Ruddy, Supervisory Clinical Psychologist and Head of Recruit Mental Health at Lovell FHCC
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Suicide is a tragic, highly complex health issue and is usually the result of a combination of several risk factors.  You may ask yourself, “Why is it important to know about the risk factors and warning signs associated with suicide?” The answer is simple:  Anyone may find themselves in a situation to prevent someone from attempting suicide. 

It is often co-workers and family who are exposed to various warning signs that someone may be considering suicide.   Identification of warning signs and taking immediate action is fundamental to help minimize suicidal behavior.  Frequently cited warning signs of suicidal behavior are:
• Making statements about suicidal thoughts or plans
• Current mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety,
• Excessive alcohol use
• Substance abuse
• Work problems
• Legal or disciplinary trouble
• Loss of interest in activities, isolating self from family, friends, and co-workers
• Problems with impulsivity including temper outbursts or physical aggression

Factors or potential triggers for suicidal behavior include financial problems, chronic medical problems, significant personal losses such as a death of a loved one, relationship problems such as divorce, separation or break-up, being passed over for promotion/rank or school, and lack of a social support system as sometimes experienced in unwanted PCS, deployment or other new job assignment. 

It is important that all suicidal threats are taken seriously.  Do not ignore the warning signs!  The suicide prevention acronym “ACT” (Act, Care, Treat) provides an easy way to remember the steps to take if you suspect someone is suicidal.  If you believe your shipmate, co-worker, friend or loved one might be in trouble, then ACT!
 
• ASK- ASK if someone is thinking about suicide.  Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” or “Are you thinking about suicide?”
• CARE- Let them know you CARE. Demonstrate a willingness to talk openly and freely.  Tell them that you care and don’t leave the person alone.
• TREAT- Get TREATMENT and seek out assistance as soon as possible.  Always know where lifejackets are located.  Make sure you have key phone numbers programmed into your cell phone including base emergency numbers and Command phone numbers. Remember that assistance if available through many resources including medical assistance at the CAPT James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center, services at Fleet and Family Support Center, Chaplains, and Chain of Command.  

Other important resources include:
Military OneSource 1-800-342-9647 www.militaryonesource.com 
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1 www.veteranscrisisline.net/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. 

Remember: You could be instrumental in helping save someone’s life by acting promptly and getting a co-worker, shipmate or friend the help he or she needs.

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