ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Dr. Joy Summerlin, U.S. Army Sustainment Command G1 R2 and Integration Division, said “preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows nationally suicides declined 5.6% from 2019 to 2020.” While that’s hopeful news, it still shows suicide cost the lives of well over 40,000 people in this country last year.
“Every 40 seconds someone dies in the world by suicide,” Summerlin said. “This means every 41 seconds someone is left behind wondering why.”
Events like walks and other gatherings help, Summerlin said, because “by raising awareness, reducing the stigma around mental illness and encouraging well-informed action, we can reduce instances of suicide.”
Summerlin said it’s important to act if you feel someone is displaying signs of emotional distress.
“We must take all suicide threats and warning signs seriously,” she said. “Intervening early decreases the time a person in crisis has available to act on the suicidal thoughts.”
She said we should think “Ask, Care, Escort.”
• ASK your battle buddy or family member if he or she is thinking about harming themselves. Asking won’t increase the likelihood that they will commit suicide. You won’t place the idea in their head.
• CARE for your battle buddy or family member by listening and reassuring them that immediate help is available. Calmly talk to them and use words like, “Let me make sure I understand you, do you mean…” and carefully remove any means that they might use to harm themselves.
• ESCORT your battle buddy or family member to get help. This can be to an emergency room, a primary care provider, or a behavioral health professional. If they refuse to go with you, do not leave them alone. Call 911 if necessary.
“Remember – mental health awareness is about self-awareness, 365 days a year,” Summerlin said.