Suicide and self-destructive behavior are serious issues. Through education, we can separate the myths from the facts and begin to understand how we can begin to help each other.

It is our responsibility to help our Soldiers, Civilians and Families to understand how to identify at-risk individuals. We need to recognize the warning signs and know how to react when we see them.

The bottom line is that suicide is deliberately ending one's own life. It can come as an emotional answer to "just stop the pain." People who commit suicide may feel it is the only answer. But, I'm here to tell you, it is most definitely not an answer.

The fact is, nearly 80 percent of those who attempt or commit suicide give some warning of their intentions beforehand.

Talking to someone about their suicidal feelings usually makes the person feel relieved that someone finally recognized their emotional pain and they even feel safer talking about it.

In the United States, suicide is a problem that strikes once every 18 minutes. More Americans kill themselves that are killed by others. That translates to 80 Americans trying to kill themselves on any given day. Additionally, 1,900 Americans visit emergency rooms for self-inflicted injuries every day.

In the military, people are equally affected. The statistics are startling. More than 150 U.S. Servicemembers commit suicide every year.

Suicide has a direct impact on families, units, friendships and communities.

So, what can we do about it' First, we can know the facts. By recognizing the warning signs, you can be a "lifeline" buddy. We all need to be sensitive, caring and proactive. That's just how it is in the Army family. We look out for each other.

Stressful situations that may initiate suicidal feelings include: poor job performance, being passed over for promotion, or receiving a poor evaluation. It may be that the death of a loved one; sickness or illness; or financial problems have taken their toll on someoneAca,!a,,cs state of mind. There are a myriad of situations that can cause emotional stress or depression.

Be on the lookout for verbal clues. If someone you know says something like, "I want to end it all," the sirens should start going off in your head. Act quickly.

Don't assume that the situation will cure itself. Know that threats and attempts are all ways of asking for help.

Immediately call for help. During duty hours you can call the commander or first sergeant, chaplain, or community mental health officials (737-5508). During off-duty hours, contact your unit staff duty, the emergency room (737-5545), on-call chaplain's 24-hour hotline (010-4793-0143) or military police (911).

Remember, be a buddy. Know your people if you are a leader. Recall the clues. Finally, call for help. Let's take action now to save the heartache that will result from an unnecessary death. Be safe, rather than sorry.