As Soldiers, it’s our responsibility to look out for fellow Soldiers and engage if we learn someone is going through a difficult time. A supportive reaction can be the difference in getting them the help they need. It may be hard to know what to say or do, but the acronym ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) can help.
Ask: If you believe someone may be suicidal, ask them if they’re thinking about suicide. Being direct may feel uncomfortable, but it can help save a life.
· Don’t judge, act shocked, or be sworn to secrecy
Care: If they’re thinking about suicide, help keep them safe by separating them from anything they could use to hurt themselves. Then, listen and communicate with compassion and empathy.
· Allow them to express their feelings
· Demonstrate that you’re actively listening by acknowledging them, asking questions to clarify meaning, and repeating or summarizing what you hear
Consider using phrases like:
· “I’m here for you”
· “I’m glad you are sharing this with me”
· “You’re not alone”
· “I think you’re incredibly brave for opening up about this”
· “Your life matters”
· “Help is available”
Escort: Escort them to an appropriate support resource.
· If the person is in immediate danger, call 911, your local military police, or take them to the nearest emergency room.
Otherwise, escort them to a health care provider, a Chaplain, your chain of command, or call or chat with the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. If they would prefer to connect with someone from the Military Crisis Line, call the Lifeline and press 1, or chat online at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat. If you’re calling from overseas, use the contact information below:
· In Europe: Call 00800 1273 8255
· In Korea: Call 0808 555 118
· In Afghanistan: Call 00 1 800 273 8255