The Army Chaplain Corps encourages everyone – Soldiers, civilian employees, retirees, family members and veterans – to ReachOne during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September.
The ReachOne awareness campaign is more than the typical posters and emails seen during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which includes National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 6-12.
“ReachOne urges everyone to make a conscious effort to reach out to one person and engage with them in meaningful conversation,” said U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Charles Lahmon. “It’s about the ability each of us has to do something that could make a positive difference for someone who might be emotionally or mentally struggling.”
Suicide is a major public health concern. More than 48,000 people died by suicide in the United States during 2018 and it is the 10th leading cause of death overall, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
“Where we find ourselves these days, with the pandemic and social unrest happening around the country for months and months, has certainly increased stress,” said Lahmon. “Knowing that these are stressful times should challenge us to reach out more to other people to see how we could help each other cope.”
ReachOne is that call to action.
“Look within your circle of influence and talk to the people around you – colleagues, friends and family. Go beyond the usual, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ You already know, ‘Fine,’ is the typical answer, regardless of what’s actually happening in someone’s life,” said Lahmon. “Ask what they’re going through and how it’s affecting them. Ask about their family. Has the pandemic caused a spouse to be out of work and they might need financial assistance? What are their kids and other relatives doing to stay connected with friends and family?”
Anyone could be at greater risk for suicide when he or she is experiencing one or more significantly negative events or enduring prolonged, constant stress, Lahmon explained.
“Typically, all others can see is the brave face someone puts on to hide the turmoil they may feel inside. Meaningful, one-on-one conversations can let someone know you truly care about them and could be the key to helping someone at risk open up and ask for help.”
If you know someone you think might be at risk of suicide, offer to connect them with professional help, Lahmon urged. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress.
If you believe a person is in immediate danger of suicide, make the call for them and:
• Stay until help arrives. Never leave a person experiencing suicidal thoughts alone.
• Remove any weapons, drugs or other means of self-injury from the area.
• If you’re speaking to the person on the phone, try to keep him or her on the line while you or someone else calls 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Keep talking until help arrives.
The Chaplain Corps is charged with the responsibility to “Care for the Soul of the Army,” providing help, hope and healing to those in our ranks who are struggling – that includes civilian employees, family members and Soldiers for Life, Lahmon noted.
He added that AMCOM members are always welcome to call him at (256) 990-2592, whenever they need an encouraging word or, perhaps, some assistance finding resources for more help. Lahmon asked that the person leave a voicemail, if he is unable to immediately take the call.
“I will call you back as soon as possible!” Lahmon said.