Tag Archives: be there

Suicide Prevention and Supervisors: The Front Line When Things Get Tough

IWTC Virginia Beach Hosts Inaugural Hampton Roads Area Intelligence Symposium

Navy leaders have great influence and impact on their shipmates’ sense of connectedness. Front-line supervisors in particular can make a difference because of their unique position—the close quarters and long hours that characterize much of Navy life mean lots of day-to-day contact and many opportunities to really get to know your teammates. Supervisors are also knowledgeable about significant events Sailors are experiencing, such as promotion, deployment or family status.

Most Sailors who die by suicide were experiencing multiple stressors before their deaths, including relationship issues, transitions, and career or personal setbacks. Annual case reviews consistently reveal missed opportunities to “connect the dots” when a Sailor is experiencing negative effects of stress. Active communication is important, especially if a Sailor is alone and away from his or her support networks. Supervisors are key to this effort.

The Supervisor’s Role in Suicide Prevention

Though Sailors may compartmentalize their personal stressors to stay focused on the mission, if those stressors aren’t being adequately addressed or continue to pile up, they’re likely to spill over into their work performance. Taking the time to get to know your people can better enable you to notice when something seems off.  For example, a Sailor who used to be engaged and happy at work is becoming more withdrawn, is unable to focus or is easily agitated. These can be signals that a Sailor is in crisis and are opportunities for supportive conversation and ACTion. Consider reaching out to one of their peers who knows them well, as well as their family members who are more likely to have a more complete picture of what may be troubling the Sailor so that you can connect the dots and offer appropriate support.

It’s also imperative to reach out to the Sailor one-on-one and mention that you’ve noticed that they haven’t seemed like themselves lately. Ask directly “are you thinking about killing yourself?” You can follow up with questions like “do you have a plan to kill yourself?” Show them that you Care by listening without judgement and paying close attention to any additional warning signs, like statements about not wanting to live, feeling like a burden, feeling hopeless or discussion of lethal means. Help them get to Treatment immediately and escort them to a medical professional or Navy chaplain for safety. You can also call the Military Crisis Line with them.

Be there throughout the process, follow up and offer continued support, regardless of the level of care needed to help the Sailor bounce back. Ensure that they have ample time to attend appointments for any services they may need and help them overcome logistical barriers. For Sailors who have experienced a suicide-related behavior (SRB), remember that your suicide prevention coordinator (SPC) will need to initiate a referral to the Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life (SAIL) program. SAIL provides caring contacts to Sailors in the 90 days after an SRB and keeps them connected to resources. Let the Sailor know that they’ll receive a call from a Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) SAIL Case Manager inviting them to receive these services to support their recovery. For more information on SAIL and key messages for leaders, visit https://go.usa.gov/xEE69.

Command Directed Mental Health Evaluations and Voluntary Storage of Firearms

Sometimes Sailors may be hesitant to seek treatment, even when it could be life-saving. A commander or supervisor may direct Sailors to undergo a mental health evaluation if they reasonably believe that a Sailor’s current mental health state places them at risk of hurting themselves or others. Command directed mental health evaluations are also appropriate when a Sailor has displayed marked changes in behavior or when the leader is concerned about a Sailor’s fitness for duty. Commanding Officers may consult with the nearest available mental health provider for guidance on the referral as well as necessary precautions such as escorts and removing access to lethal means.

As an added safety precaution during times of increased stress, Commanders must ask Sailors believed to be at-risk for suicide to voluntarily allow their privately-owned firearms to be stored for temporary safekeeping by the command per NAVADMIN 263/14. Leaders must work with base security and/or other local resources to proactively determine storage and safety protocol for local implementation of this DoD-wide policy. For more information, refer to DoD Instruction 6490.04.

Be There for Every Sailor, Every Day

Fostering communication and encouraging connectedness among team members are two strategies to increase protective factors against suicide that are recommended by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Negative attitudes about mental illness can keep people from sharing their situation and reaching out for help. Lead by example and reassure your Sailors that mental health problems can happen to anyone and are treatable. Talk about mental health openly, honestly and supportively, just as you would about physical health. Encourage use of professional resources like medical providers and Navy’s Counseling Advocacy Program, as well as confidential support from a Navy chaplain or the Military Crisis Line.

Leaders should also share resources, contact information and educational materials regularly to foster a supportive command climate. Lifelink Newsletter includes articles that can be reproduced for your command’s blog or local publication, plan of the week notes and more. There are posters and other print resources available for download as well on the Every Sailor, Every Day campaign’s “Get Involved” webpage on http://www.suicide.navy.mil. Your support helps to reshape the negative perceptions about the impacts of seeking help on one’s career, especially when it comes to treatment from leaders and peers.

An All-Hands Responsibility

All Sailors, regardless of supervisory status, have specific responsibilities for suicide prevention which are outlined in the Navy’s latest Suicide Prevention Program Instruction, OPNAVINST 1720.4B​. In addition to the mandatory general military training (GMT) required for all Navy personnel and the specialized training for SPCs and Suicide Prevention Program Managers (SPPMs), Navy Suicide Prevention Brach also provides training resources for communities who have frequent contact with at-risk Sailors. Gatekeeper Training is available for legal defense personnel, transient personnel unit (TPU) staff, ombudsmen and medical staff. This training includes a facilitator guide, can be downloaded from www.suicide.navy.mil, and meets the Suicide Prevention GMT requirements. Additionally, the new Navigating Stress for Navy Families course provides practical tools and effective techniques to help spouses and families build resilience and navigate stress.

Resources to support locally-developed training can be found on the Navy Suicide Prevention Branch website, including facts and warning signs, informational materials, videos and statistics.

New Tools for Suicide Prevention Month and Beyond

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Navy Suicide Prevention Month is not just a 30-day blitz of suicide prevention efforts; it is the starting point for year-long conversations on how to be there for Every Sailor, Every Day. This September, the Every Sailor, Every Day (ESED) campaign will continue to lead the charge for Navy’s year-long suicide prevention efforts, promoting healthy behaviors, active engagement and open conversation through its popular 1 Small ACT message.

Over the next month, ESED will introduce new concepts and tools to enhance Sailors’ abilities to recognize risk factors, navigate stress, stay safe during high-stress times and understand the importance of seeking help. One of those new tools is the FY-19 1 Small ACT Toolkit that provides resources to support local suicide prevention engagement. This year’s toolkit will be available by mid-August and will be digitally distributed to suicide prevention coordinators (SPCs) and other gatekeepers who have subscribed to Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s email distribution list (available to sign up here). It will also be available to download year-round on www.suicide.navy.mil. All toolkit content aligns to the ESED campaign’s FY-19 focus areas, including various ways to engage in self-care, practice lethal means safety during times of increased stress and empower Sailors to feel comfortable seeking help without fear of judgement or impacts to their security clearance eligibility.

The FY-19 1 Small ACT Toolkit is a one-stop shop for messages and materials to strengthen local engagement. It contains posters, digital graphics, sharable facts, social media messages, plan of the week notes, event ideas and other materials that can be used in September and throughout the new fiscal year. As one of the most popular tools in each year’s toolkit, the new 30 Days of Small ACTs calendar features simple ways for Sailors to be there for themselves and others. It offers a practical tip each day, helping Sailors build positive coping mechanisms and self-care into their routines, such as mindfulness, journaling, and starting conversations with others. You can print and display this calendar in high-traffic areas and even repurpose daily tips as Plan of the Day notes. Or give Sailors a chance at some friendly competition by hosting a 30 Days of Small ACTs challenge that pushes them to engage in as many small ACTs as possible during the month.

The tools in this toolkit—along with popular existing Every Sailor, Every Day materials—are not only helpful resources for Suicide Prevention Month but can be used to continue dialogue and engagement throughout the year. Use the campaign’s “Sailor’s on the Street” YouTube videos as icebreakers for small group discussions on healthy stress navigation. Plan group physical fitness activities like a fun run or yoga class to help Sailors beat stress head-on. And, of course, pair these activities with useful information and resources on social media. Work with your command and/or installation public affairs office to promote Suicide Prevention Month and ongoing Every Sailor, Every Day content on social media using the #1SmallACT hashtag.

Stay connected with Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s ESED campaign throughout the year. Access resources on www.suicide.navy.mil > Every Sailor, Every Day > Get Involved, and find useful tips for navigating stress on our blog.  Follow us on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to tag us in your social media posts about your local events and activities.

1 Small ACT can make a difference. Be there for Every Sailor, Every Day.

 

 

Connect and Learn Online this Suicide Prevention Month

2018 Webinar Blog Photo

Each September during Suicide Prevention Month, Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s (OPNAV N171) Every Sailor, Every Day (ESED) campaign releases new resources to empower conversations about psychological health, encourage Sailors to recognize risk among their shipmates and themselves, and motivate Small ACTs to prevent suicide. This year, in addition to introducing new educational materials in the FY-19 1 Small ACT Toolkit, ESED will offer learning opportunities for Navy gatekeepers, leaders, command resilience team (CRT) members and families.

Start off 2018 Suicide Prevention Month with Navy Suicide Prevention Branch and Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center’s (NMCPHC) Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) Department who will be co-hosting a webinar entitled “Your ACTions Could Save a Life: 3 Ways to #BeThere for Every Sailor, Every Day.” Join us September 6, 2018 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT to explore current and emerging best practices in suicide prevention and findings from recent Navy suicide “Deep Dives.” This discussion will equip Navy leaders, health promotion coordinators, suicide prevention coordinators (SPCs), and the gatekeepers who most frequently encounter at-risk Sailors (e.g., legal staff, school house instructors and housing staff) with the tools to:

  • Identify challenges that Sailors may be encountering and recognize risk factors to provide interventions;
  • Cultivate a climate that encourages help-seeking and facilitates connections to needed psychological health resources; and
  • Promote a safe and consistent suicide prevention narrative that utilizes evidence-informed messaging and materials for local engagement.

Register for the webinar by August 31, 2018 at https://survey.max.gov/933674. You must have a Common Access Card (CAC) to register. To learn more, visit the HPW Webinars page or click here to email NMCPHC with any questions that you may have about the webinar.

End the month with U.S. Navy Operational Stress Control’s first Twitter chat; a perfect opportunity to learn more ways to recognize risk and be there for Every Sailor, Every Day. #ACT2PreventSuicide will focus on how to apply and operationalize ACT day-to-day and create discussions on:

  • Recognizing warning signs and risk factors in daily interactions, including those that take place on social media;
  • Tips to start the conversation with someone who may be at risk or displaying warning signs;
  • How and where to reach out for help for yourself or others; and
  • How to fit Small ACTs of self-care into hectic schedules.

The Twitter chat will be hosted by @NavStress on September 27, 2018 at 2 p.m. EDT. It is ideal for all audiences, including Navy family members, SPCs, gatekeepers, military health organizations and others that serve the Navy community. To participate, login to your Twitter account at the above day and time, and search #ACT2PreventSuicide. Include the hashtag in your questions and responses. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to learn more about the webinar and join the conversation on September 27.

Suicide Prevention Month is right around the corner. To get a head start on your command’s local efforts, visit www.suicide.navy.mil > Every Sailor, Every Day > Get Involved. Additional articles and useful tips will be shared throughout the month and upcoming fiscal year on our blog, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

Unplugging from Social Media for Psychological Health

Unplugging from social media for psych health blog pic

Human communication and interaction have vastly changed over the past few decades. Twenty years ago, we never would have imagined that we could hold a phone in our hands and see pictures of what our friends are eating at a new restaurant in town or watch live videos of their babies’ first steps. We can only imagine the innovations to look forward to in the next ten years.

We see people scrolling on their smart phones, tapping and sharing photos, videos, and posts made by friends and family on social media platforms. Unfortunately, that scrolling can create feelings of inadequacy when the newsfeed is full of pictures of an old classmate’s new car, videos from a friend’s island vacation or posts about a cousin’s well-paying job. Social comparison is comparing yourself to the people in your social circle. With social networks, it’s much easier to engage in because of the constant barrage of updates from your connections. As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

The Effects of Social Comparison

Social comparison can impact self-esteem. A study from the University of Toledo and a study co-conducted by the University of Michigan and University of California, Santa Barbara examined social media use and its effects on self-esteem and psychological health. These studies show that upward social comparison, or comparison to people believed to have more positive qualities, can negatively affect self-esteem, mental health, and body perception.

Social media gives us the opportunity to present ourselves in the way we wish to be perceived. We can choose not to reveal the dozen “bad” selfies that preceded the flawless one. We don’t have to post about that embarrassing thing that happened at work and relive it through others’ reactions. The perfection we see on our social media feed may not be an accurate portrayal of our connections’ overall lives.

Resetting Your Connection with Yourself

While social media helps us stay linked to friends and family, receive updates about their lives, and even get quick access to what’s going on in the news, it can also create negative consequences, especially when those updates cause feelings of inadequacy or if the news is discouraging. Additionally, excessive social media use can contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation when we replace real-life human interaction with digital communication. It’s important to find a balance that includes healthy use of social media, maintenance of in-person social connection with family and friends and opportunities to create new relationships.

Taking a break from social media can help improve your psychological health. If you don’t think you can break away from social networks completely, but find that certain connections make you feel drained, these tips can help make your feed become less emotionally exhausting:

  • Take a break from a Facebook friend by unfollowing or using the “snooze” feature, which removes their updates from your feed for 30 days.
  • Facebook’s Messenger app can still be used even if your account is deactivated, so you don’t have to stay on Facebook to communicate with your friends on Messenger.
  • On Twitter, “muting” allows you to continue to follow someone but no longer see their tweets on your timeline.
  • While many people have difficulty navigating Snapchat after its newest update, it may help make it easier to skip the stories that you can’t stand anyway.
  • If the fitness gurus on Instagram make you notice your imperfections instead of motivating you to get in shape, unfollow them.
  • Don’t be afraid to change your settings to hide status updates or your story from anyone who you’d prefer to keep in the dark about of certain aspects of your life.

National Day of Unplugging

If you think you might want to take the plunge into disengaging with social media, try it for just 24 hours on the National Day of Unplugging, from sunset to sunset March 9th through March 10th. Use the day to get in some needed self-care. Meditate, read, go for a walk, enjoy a screen-free lunch with a friend, or get some needed sleep. Screen time, especially around bedtime, can have negative impacts on your sleep cycle, so taking a break can also help you get a better night’s rest.

Unplugging can help improve your psychological health and make you feel better about yourself. Put your social media newsfeeds on pause occasionally, so you can reconnect with yourself, friends and family in more genuine and meaningful ways that can’t be edited or photoshopped.

If you or a shipmate is dealing with psychological health concerns, the BeThere Peer Support Call and Outreach Center offers resources and information 24/7/365 via phone at 844-357-7337 or on their website at http://www.betherepeersupport.org.

3 Things You Need to Know about 2017 Navy Suicide Prevention Month

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Suicide Prevention Month is not about momentary engagement; it’s about everyday action. In 2015, “1 Small ACT” became the central message of Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s Every Sailor, Every Day campaign, encouraging all members of the Navy community to use common interactions as opportunities to make a difference. A simple act of kindness can shine a light in the darkness, and offer hope; whether we know it or not.

Over the past two years, the “1 Small ACT” message has encouraged actions to be there for others, accessible self-care practices to promote healthy behaviors, active dialogue about stress and suicide, and more. This year, we’ll continue to use “1 Small ACT” to enlist all members of the Navy community in the fight against suicide. With 2017 Navy Suicide Prevention Month (September) around the corner, here are three things you need to know to jumpstart your efforts to be there for Every Sailor, Every Day:

2017 Suicide Prevention Month will serve as the launch-pad for fiscal year 2018 Navy Suicide Prevention efforts.

It’s not just about a 30-day blitz. Starting in September and throughout FY-18, the Every Sailor, Every Day campaign will promote new tools that empower Sailors and their families to better recognize warning signs, start conversations, take the right actions to intervene and practice ongoing safety. Look out for new posters, graphics and tips that help you identify warning signs, decrease risk during times of increased stress, and promote new resources to help Sailors recover from psychological or emotional crises, like the Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life (SAIL) program. Our annual 1 Small ACT Toolkit will be available for download on www.suicide.navy.mil > Every Sailor, Every Day > Get Involved, including graphics, a sample commanding officer’s proclamation, facts, event ideas, sharable social media content, plan of the week notes and more. These new tools are not only designed to help you help others, they’re here to help you help yourself. Be sure to subscribe to our distribution list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress to be the first to access these products as they are released, and stay tuned throughout the FY for more.

Preventing suicide is an all hands evolution. Communication and partnerships are key.

Holistic success starts locally. On September 7 at 1200 ET we will co-host a webinar with Navy & Marine Corps Public Health Center’s Health Promotion and Wellness Dept. to share lessons learned from Navy Suicide Prevention Branch’s (OPNAV N171) annual cross disciplinary case reviews. This webinar is intended for all levels of leadership, SPCs, health promotion coordinators, providers, chaplains and all personnel who have frequent contact with Sailors who may be at increased risk of suicide. Learn how you can work together on a local level to close gaps and promote a culture supportive of psychological health in September and throughout the year. To register, visit https://survey.max.gov/933674.

You can still share your ideas to be there for Every Sailor, Every Day through the 1 Small ACT Photo Gallery.

The 1 Small ACT Photo Gallery, now hosted on the Every Sailor, Every Day campaign’s Flickr page, will remain open for submission. To date, Sailors and their families have contributed over 600 “Small ACT Selfies,” featuring the many ways they are there for others and themselves as individuals. We will continue to feature these selfies on our Facebook, shouting out installations, units and commands. 1 Small ACT signs and details are available at www.suicide.navy.mil > Every Sailor, Every Day > 1 Small ACT Photo Gallery.

Navy Suicide Prevention Month is a time to refocus, come together and kick-off sustainable local engagement. When we are constantly working together to keep psychological health in open conversation and are leading by example when it comes to seeking help and taking care of ourselves, we break down barriers together. It’s not just about preventing suicide; it’s about helping one another live full, productive and meaningful lives. Together, we can be there for Every Sailor, Every Day.