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Suicide Prevention Month, 2020

Connect to Protect

Connect to Protect

U.S. NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas --

I want to start this message by saying, “Thank you” to my fellow Total Force Airmen of the 301st Fighter Wing! Thank you for being strong in the face of adversity! Thank you for looking out for one another with phone calls, and texts, and check-ins to ensure that our Wingmen are doing well in these challenging times! Thank you for having the courage to reach out and ask for help when you need it! Thank you for showing off your individual and collective resilience and for proving that we are stronger together, even when we are not physically side by side! I am amazed by you all!

It is hard to believe that it has been over 6 months since we began this new American journey that would ultimately change our daily lives to address the reality of living in a world plagued by COVID-19.  Our “new normal” has presented its fair share of social and environmental challenges, but it has also revealed our resilience and ability to cope in less than ideal circumstances. While these difficult times have likely weighed on us all at some point in the past half a year, for some among us, the time has been especially challenging. Social distancing, isolation, and lack of connection to our support systems, our teams, and our mission has taken a toll on some of our members; fortunately for us, challenging times are no match for our Wingman culture! That is where you come in! September is National Suicide Prevention Month (SPM20) and I’m asking each member of our Total Force to TAKE ACTION during this month dedicated to Suicide Prevention. 

The theme of SPM20 is Connectedness and the slogan is #Connect to Protect. In this article, I will provide you with several thoughts on ways that you can TAKE ACTION and connect with fellow Airmen You don’t need any special training or experience to TAKE ACTION, nor do you need a lot of time! In just a few minutes, you can show your support for your fellow Airmen (and yourself) and you can promote Suicide Prevention by doing one or more of the simple things listed below.   

Here are some ways you can TAKE ACTION and lift up your fellow Airmen:

  • Take 5! Use the Take 5 flyer to make a Take 5 Call to an Airman you haven’t talked too recently.
  • Wear Yellow or Teal and Purple on Thursdays in September and take a selfie or group photo to send to me in the Office of Violence Prevention.
  • Complete an “I will…” sign in support of Capt Gross and the Public Affairs Office photo journal campaign during the UTA weekend(s). 
  • Print and put up the Suicide Prevention poster in your work space (even if that work space is at home!).
  • Sign the Suicide Prevention Pledge and post it on your social media or hang it in your work space and ask a few of your Wingmen to do the same.
  • Print the #Connect to Protect Sign and take a picture of what you do to connect with the important people in your life.
  • Fully engage in your unit’s Resilience Tactical Pause Small-Group Discussions. 
  • If you are attending the UTA in person this month, talk to another in-person member who you might not regularly talk to.
  • If you are telecommuting the UTA this month, call another telecommuter and ask them if there is something that they need with which you can help.
  • Come up with your own creative idea about how you connect with your fellow Airmen and how you are supporting Suicide Prevention. 
  • Call me to brainstorm other options!

The Office of Violence Prevention would love hear about or see what you’re doing to promote Connectedness and decrease risk for suicide! Please share any pictures, videos or short narratives (including any of the items listed above) of what you have been doing to support your Wingmen and take care of yourselves. Send these items to me at james.harper.20@us.af.mil

To learn more or for more ideas, please visit the 301 FW Suicide Prevention Program One Stop Share Point page at:  https://afrc.eim.us.af.mil/sites/301FW/onestop/SitePages/Suicide%20Prevention%20Program.aspx OR the AF Suicide Prevention Program website at:  https://www.resilience.af.mil/Suicide-Prevention-Program/

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs immediate support, call 911 or the Military Crisis Line at:  800-273-TALK (8255).

I am so proud to call the 301st Fighter Wing my Air Force home and so fortunate to have you all as my Wingmen! Thank you for all that you do!

Please be safe and healthy!