In support of our mission to increase awareness of initiatives and resources to reduce suicide, we recognize September as Suicide Prevention Month. The Department of Defense’s theme for Suicide Prevention Month 2021 is “Connect to Protect – Support is Within Reach.” This theme highlights how social connections and a sense of belonging serve as protective factors against suicide.
The Army’s supporting theme is “It’s the Everyday, Little Things That Matter.” This focuses on everyday interactions that build strong relationships, which act as a protective factor and increases our ability to manage life stressors. It’s these little daily moments, like checking in on a friend, that forge a connection with your close circle of support and those around you. Reaching out is not about admitting you are struggling, but about strengthening your resilience by developing healthy relationships and encouraging and practicing help-seeking behaviors through daily interactions.
ARD has created materials supporting this observance, which are now available on ARD’s website. The materials include stories of Soldiers and spouses sharing their mental health struggles and how they found support, a 30-day Connect-to-Protect challenge calendar, a pledge to support and connect, phone wall papers and downloadable stickers.
Every Soldier, civilian and family member can play a part in suicide prevention by understanding the signs and symptoms of at-risk behavior and encouraging and connecting those in distress with those who can help. Sources of help include unit leaders, chaplains, Army Community Services counselors and behavioral health specialists. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and provides confidential support. The lifeline is available 24/7 in English and Spanish.
I encourage you all to share this information widely and use the support materials to help the Army combat suicide and save lives.