Category Archives: Suicide Prevention

Our Efforts to Thrive Continue

US Navy Photo/Released

Rear Admiral Sean S. Buck
Director, 21st Century Sailor Office
U.S. Navy Photo/Released

During my nearly 30 years of service in our Navy, it’s safe to say that I’ve encountered my fair share of stress—both operational and personal. No matter the source, there was always something that I could count on to help me navigate, see things clearly, and keep an even keel; the camaraderie and cohesion I shared with my fellow Sailors.

As a leader, I’ve had to learn to “bounce back” from adversity as soon as possible in order to maintain my ability to look out for my Sailors and guide our mission. But as we’ve learned this month, the difference between bouncing back and thriving is one’s sense of community—I didn’t bounce back on my own; I had support. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about community is that you have to take care of yourself in order to help those that depend on you. Having the strength to seek help has to be something you can identify within before you can truly encourage others to do the same. Yet the courage to accept help is where it begins. Our natural inclination as service members is to give and not receive. But when we can find a way to do both—encouraging our shipmates to speak up about their stressors, and also speaking up about our own—we’ve evolved. The smallest action can have a rippling impact and we must all lead by example.

September may be coming to a close, but our efforts to help one another navigate stress, build resilience and thrive will continue. As we wrap up Suicide Prevention Month, take a moment to read about the impressive efforts that took place in our Navy over the past few weeks. I have an immense sense of pride knowing that I serve with Sailors who truly look out for and support their shipmates through calm and rough seas. Honor, courage and commitment at their finest.

  •          Joint Intelligence Center, Central Command Unit 0274 partnered with personnel from Information Dominance Corps East to contribute to a Habitat for Humanity Project benefiting the Jacksonville, FL community.
  •          Sailors assigned to the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Ford (FFG 54) organized a suicide awareness run. Sailors who participated in the event ran a cumulative 32 miles, one mile for each suicide in the Navy this year.
  •         Navy Warfare Development Command held a Suicide Prevention and Awareness Run, encouraging non-runners to sponsor runners. Sponsors agreed to receive suicide prevention and stress navigation awareness resources in exchange for their endorsement, and the runner with the most sponsors received special recognition.
  •         Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic developed a wall in the break room for Sailors and leaders to post a compliment to a fellow shipmate for all to see as small tokens of appreciation.

These are just a few of the many efforts around the fleet helping us “thrive in our communities.” Thank you for your dedication to one another, and please keep up the great work.

About the Author
Rear Admiral Sean S. Buck is the Director of the 21
st Century Sailor Office, OPNAV N17. Read his full biography here.

For more examples of “Thrive in Your Community” engagement, follow @NavStress on Facebook (www.facebook.com/navstress) or visit the Suicide Prevention Month webpage on www.suicide.navy.mil.

If you, your shipmate or a loved one is having trouble navigating stress or experiencing a crisis, help is always available 24/7. Call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK and select option 1.

Thriving, Not Just Surviving

Trust, one of the 5 Principles of Resilience, plays a critical role in withstanding adversity. It is built through experience and communication, not only on individual levels, but on the part of leaders and larger organizations as well. Starting a conversation about stress and the value of seeking help encourages people to feel comfortable discussing challenges, building trust between shipmates and leaders. Together we can help each other thrive, not just survive.
–NavyNavStress.com Note

Leaders,

I’d like all hands to view this courageous video by PRC Kelsey – an active duty Chief who has voluntarily placed his life story in front of us all.

Look my friends, life is a gift.  It is precious.  No matter what or how bad things may seem, there is always an answer that compels us to choose LIFE and embrace the goodness of this gift, forever.

Some may say:  We always don’t have a warning.  What do we do?

We have to build TRUST with our people—ALL our people, Civilians, Sailors, Officers alike—so that when things are going wrong, we can intervene with every resource the Navy has to bear.  And we have A LOT.

We have to ENGAGE with our people—know their spouses, their families, their plans, their life’s dreams and goals, so we can catch them if and when they fall.

We ARE our sister’s and our brother’s keeper.  And we ARE a family.

Bottom line, no one is going to do this but US.  I need your minds and hearts in the game.  Know your Sailors.  Division Officers and Branch Officers, move your desks in the shops and know your people.  To lead in this warfighting profession, you have to love (and I know of no better word to describe this action) those under your stewardship.  Be a servant leader.  Get out there and lead from the front.

VR/ CAPT Steve Deal

About the Author
Captain Steve Deal,
Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TEN, will be headed to Tennessee in early November to take the lead as Director, OPNAV N17 Millington, 21st Century Sailor Office. Recently, during a Personal Readiness Summit at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Capt. Deal had the honor of hearing Chief Kelsey’s story first hand. The impact of his story was immediately felt command-wide; leading Capt. Deal to publish the above message on the CPRW-10 Commodore’s Blog , bringing conversations about seeking help to the forefront and reinforcing a sense of community.  Capt. Deal’s efforts mark the essence of caring leadership, upholding suicide prevention as an all hands evolution.

For more information on Navy Suicide Prevention Month, click here.

Suicide Prevention – we can all do something…together.

Note from the author:
As a layman, I share the frustration of most veterans who want to do something about military suicides, but don’t have a clue where to begin. This post is written from that perspective. I am not a doctor, but I am a brother to all of those who serve and have served. This is a family matter.
- Jeff Bacon

In working with severely wounded and injured veterans, a few things have become obvious to me. First, it is healing when veterans get together. They understand each other. They often share similar values and even when they don’t, they trust each other. In many cases veterans come home and return to communities that do not understand them. Veterans, however, understand other veterans. Togetherness is important.

Second, as Admiral Mike Mullen – champion of veteran issues during and after his tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – has said many times, the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense simply cannot provide sufficient support to the millions of veterans throughout the country on their own. Communities, nonprofits, and other veterans must work together if we are ever going to put a dent in the alarming suicide rates. All of us – you and me – must wrap ourselves around those who served and be there to help each other heal.

Isolation has been linked to suicide. It may not be the cause—rarely is there a single “cause” for suicide—but it has been identified as a contributing risk. Those of us who are not psychiatrists may feel helpless when it comes to treating someone who is contemplating taking his or her own life, but we can all get involved by just being there. Treatment is not our role, but we can visit, or call, or even tap out a quick text message to show that we care. We can make it known that he or she does not have to face life’s struggles alone. All veterans must navigate through their own challenges; but they do not have to travel by themselves.

This is hard. It takes real commitment, not just slogans or national awareness campaigns. It requires us to get our hands dirty, to concentrate on individuals rather than demographic groups. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it takes love for one another. This will not be solved by research. It will be solved by veterans helping veterans, Sailors helping Sailors, one at a time, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with them as they struggle to sort through life’s obstacles.
If we do that, I honestly believe we can save lives, and that is something veterans – even those of us without a Ph.D. – know how to do.

About the Author: Jeff Bacon is the well-known creator of the Broadside and Greenside cartoons for Military Times. What some may not know is that Jeff works with the Wyakin Warrior Foundation. He, alongside a team of veterans in his home state of Idaho, guides and mentors seriously wounded veterans through critical journeys in their lives: retraining, reintegration, and college. The foundation’s work empowers wounded veterans by helping them fulfill personal promises and redefine success. Additionally, he is an active member of the National Cartoonists Society and has assisted with the “Support the Troops” initiative arranging visits by professional cartoonists to active duty and VA hospitals to give back to those who served.

September is Navy Suicide Prevention Month. For more information, visit http://www.suicide.navy.mil.

“Thrive in your Community” – 2013 Navy Suicide Prevention Month

(U.S. Navy Photo, 130824-N-MN975-009, by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin A. Johndro/Released)

(U.S. Navy Photo, 130824-N-MN975-009, by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin A. Johndro/Released)

Suicide prevention goes beyond training people to recognize risk factors, warning signs or what to do in a crisis. You may not realize it, but suicide prevention happens every day when you do something kind for someone who didn’t expect it, or just take the time to actually listen to someone when you ask how they’re doing. It’s hard to quantify exactly how many lives you’re impacting or how you’re impacting them, but the one fact you can count on is that the little things you do mean something big to someone else. Often when we realize that we’ve helped others, we have a renewed sense of purpose and contribution even when we’re experiencing our own challenges and setbacks.

Each September, the Armed Forces recognize Suicide Prevention Month in order to encourage ongoing proactive conversation about stress so that service members and their families feel more comfortable seeking help. Navy’s theme for Suicide Prevention Month this year is “Thrive in Your Community.” Through our recent NavyTHRIVE communications, we’ve discussed the importance of taking actions to help yourself grow in the face of stressors. The ability to thrive is the next step in building resilience, solidifying the relationship between personal responsibility and supportive communities. This year’s Suicide Prevention Month theme underscores that concept, highlighting a sense of community and purpose as protective factors during times of adversity. We’re all in this together and by helping others, you help yourself.

To support “Thrive in Your Community” efforts, Sailors are encouraged to get together and make a difference to others. There is no mandatory requirement or minimum level of engagement. You can work on a service project in town as a unit, organize an awareness walk/run around your installation for your shipmates and their families, develop a Public Service Announcement as a CSADD chapter—it’s up to you. Remember, suicide prevention is an all hands evolution, so family and civilian involvement is encouraged. By stepping outside of yourselves and your everyday focus to make an impact and share an emotional connection, you’re not only investing time in others but are investing time in yourself.

Navy’s Suicide Prevention month initiatives are a launch pad for year-round local efforts to build resilience and cohesion, navigate stress and promote a culture supportive of seeking help as a sign of strength. Throughout the month, resources will be released to increase collective awareness and bring conversations about healthy stress navigation to the forefront. Make sure you follow us to get the latest updates. Together, we can help each other thrive, not just survive!

For more information on Navy Suicide Prevention Month, reference NAVADMIN 212/13.

Ideas, resources and products for command awareness are available on the Navy Suicide Prevention Month page, here.

Taking the Steps To Thrive

Navy defines resilience as “the capacity to withstand, recover and/or grow in the face of challenging circumstances.” At times when we’re the most stressed it may seem like it takes all of our strength just “withstand” the storm, and recovery just returns us to where we were before. But when do we achieve growth, the third phase of resilience? How do we gain from our trials for a full triumph? We have to take personal action so that we can thrive.

The ability to thrive is the next step in building resilience, solidifying the relationship between personal responsibility and supportive communities. To thrive means “to grow vigorously: FLOURISH,”  “to gain in wealth or possessions: PROSPER” or “to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.” (Source: Merriam-Webster). When we add this to our toolkit, every challenge, every stressful mission, and everything in between gives us the opportunity to reach a new height of achievement and strength—improving individual and mission readiness. That is the goal of the new OPNAV N17 21st Century Sailor communications campaign, “NavyTHRIVE;” to encourage Sailors, commands, families and civilians to empower themselves by taking personal responsibility for their health, wellness and growth—the next step in building resilience.

Over the next several months, we’ll be discussing steps you can take to climb the ladder from awareness to positive action when it comes to life’s stressors.  Social connectedness, unit cohesion, and purpose strengthen resilience and serve as protective factors during stressful situations. The first two factors are based on a sense of community, but the last is heavily influenced on our own views of our abilities and our perceived value. “NavyTHRIVE” aims to empower individuals to not only take advantage of support networks, but promote personal growth through self-sustainment and capability. We don’t want you to just “bounce back” from adversity—we want you to be able to emerge stronger and healthier than ever before so that life’s next hurdles don’t seem insurmountable. We want our Sailors to thrive, not just survive.