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IS SOMEONE YOU KNOW AT RISK FOR SUICIDE?
Shipmates, fellow Marines, family and friends are the front line of defense in suicide prevention. A close family member, friend or peer is often the first person to recognize changes in mood and behavior. You likely know them best and this places you in a unique position to intervene and connect your friend or loved one to the appropriate care and resources. If you are concerned that a close friend or loved one may harm themselves, trust your instincts and have an honest conversation with the individual. By knowing the signs to look for, asking the right questions, and knowing the resources available, you can provide support and assistance, and possibly prevent a suicide from occurring.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, some of our service members are fighting a different battle here at home. Preliminary reports from the Pentagon indicate there were 60 deaths by suicide among active duty Sailors and six among selected reserve Sailors in 2012 (Department of Defense Suicide Event Report, unpublished data). The Marine Corps experienced 48 deaths by suicide in 2012.1 Increasing awareness of the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, as well as where to go for assistance, can help prevent many of these tragedies.
Warning signs and risk factors
Very few suicides occur without warning. Knowing what to watch for can prevent a tragedy. To help remember the acute warning signs of suicide, think of the acronym IS PATH WARM and ask yourself if someone you know is experiencing2:
Various personal or professional circumstances, behaviors, physical changes, thoughts and emotions can increase someone's risk for self-harm or suicide. Is someone you know showing any of the following risk factors for suicide3:
How to help
If someone you know is exhibiting any of the warning signs for suicide, it is important to ACT5:
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800- 273-8255 and press 1 or contact your commanding officer, chaplain, or medical representative.
Where to find help
Live, confidential support is available regardless of where you are stationed:
Visit the following websites to obtain additional information and resources on suicide prevention:
Suicide prevention training can raise awareness about the warning signs for suicide and empower first responders to ACT. To learn more about training resources for commands and leadership visit:
If you or someone you know has lost a loved one to suicide, support is available:
1. Shuttleworth T. Marine and family programs suicide prevention and response update January 2013. USMC Manpower & Reserve Affairs website. https://www.manpower.usmc.mil/portal/page/portal/M_RA_HOME. Accessed April 1, 2013.
2. Navy Personnel Command. Suicide warning signs. Navy Suicide Prevention. http://www.public.navy.mil/BUPERS-NPC/SUPPORT/21ST_CENTURY_SAILOR/SUICIDE_PREVENTION/HOWTOHELP/Pages/RiskFactors.aspx. Accessed March 29, 2013.
3. Navy Personnel Command. Risk factors. Navy Suicide Prevention. http://www.public.navy.mil/bupersnpc/support/suicide_prevention/HowToHelp/Pages/RiskFactors.aspx. Updated November 20, 2012. Accessed March 29, 2013.
4. Real Warriors; Real Battles; Real Support. You are your friend's biggest support. http://realwarriors.net/active/treatment/suicideprevention.php. Updated September 11, 2012. Accessed March 29, 2013.
5. Navy Personnel Command. ACT. Navy Suicide Prevention. http://www.public.navy.mil/bupersnpc/support/suicide_prevention/HowToHelp/Pages/ACT.aspx. Accessed March 29, 2013.
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