Tag Archives: suicide prevention month

Three Things to Remember this Suicide Prevention Month

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are collectively continuing to navigate uncertainty and ambiguous situations, so if you’ve been feeling a heightened sense of anxiety or stress – you’re not alone. This Suicide Prevention Month falls at momentous time, and whether or not you or someone you know might be exhibiting signs of increased stress, the messages regarding stress management have never been more universally needed. You’ve probably read or heard the following over the past several months:

Now more than ever, it is important to prioritize your mental health.

In this unprecedented time, taking care of yourself and your community is vitally important.

With ongoing uncertainty, it is critical to practice healthy coping mechanisms. 

These messages aren’t wrong. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing.”

Each September, the Navy recognizes Suicide Prevention Month in order to promote healthy behaviors, active engagement and open conversation about suicide and stress management. This month is intended to spark a year-long conversation about psychological health and is not just a 30-day blitz of suicide prevention efforts but a reminder of what we can be doing every day for ourselves and others.

Keep these three items in mind this Suicide Prevention Month:  

  1. Connect to protect. The Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) 2020 Suicide Prevention Month theme is “Connect to Protect,” spotlighting the vital role connectedness plays in feeling a sense of both belonging and safety. Connections help strengthen our resilience and leads to a more meaningful and fulfilled life. Discussing suicide and stress management promotes help-seeking behavior.
  2. Suicide is preventable. Preventing suicide is a community effort. Keeping open lines of communication and practicing help-seeking behavior within your social circles is a helpful way to lead by example. Find help with your local Navy chaplain, Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) or medical provider. Review and share resources from Military OneSource. Use the Military Crisis Line by texting 838255 or calling 1-800-273-TALK (press 1) for navigating challenges. The Sailor Assistance & Intercept for Life (SAIL) program is also available to help Sailors navigate resources following instances of suicide-related behaviors (SRBs).
  3. 1 Small ACT can make a difference. The FY-21 1 Small ACT Toolkit is a helpful resource for suicide prevention coordinators (SPCs), leaders, providers and anyone who wants to support Navy’s suicide prevention efforts. It contains messages and outreach materials to refresh engagement, including new information on the Caring Connections effort, recipe cards for safe and effective conversations about mental health and a revamped version of the 30 Days of Small ACTs Calendar.  

For more ideas on stress navigation, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Annual Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Outreach Recognition

41091343_1937693046269634_8563406773740896256_nThe Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) is  conducting its annual DoD Suicide Prevention Month Outreach Recognition to honor one exemplary installation from each of the services and one from either the Reserves or National Guard. This recognition honors the installations with the most dedicated and influential efforts commemorating Suicide Prevention Month. Recipients will be recognized for their efforts to be there for service members, their families and DoD civilians by educating, engaging and building community support for suicide prevention.

For recognition consideration, events must occur during the month of September 2019, though they may be sustained beyond that time to promote ongoing engagement. All Navy events must adhere to the safe messaging guidelines included in the FY-20 1 Small ACT Toolkit to ensure that they do not unintentionally place vulnerable individuals at increased risk and convey a positive narrative. Additionally, Navy events should promote one or more of the following “Every Sailor, Every Day” campaign concepts:

  • Educate on suicide risk factors, protective factors and warning signs;
  • Empower proactive self-care, early intervention and seeking help;
  • Promote open, positive and ongoing dialogue about stress, psychological health and suicide; and
  • Demonstrate practical applications of the “1 Small ACT,” “BeThere” and/or “Small Steps Save Lives” messages.

All nominations must be submitted via email to Navy Suicide Prevention Program at suicideprevention@navy.mil no later than November 1, 2019. To nominate your local efforts:

  • Provide no more than a 750-word narrative, using 12-point Times New Roman describing your installation’s event(s) and/or activity/activities throughout September 2019. Including pictures, fliers and other supporting material is encouraged.
  • Include SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) measures of effectiveness of each activity or event (i.e., qualitative or quantitative data demonstrating how the activity or event affected the community such as number of participants, populations participating, or survey outcomes, etc.).
  • The email subject line should read “2019 DoD Suicide Prevention Month Outreach Recognition _ installation name”. The file naming convention should read “2019SPM _ installation name”.
  • Coordinate with your homeport or installation’s public affairs office to ensure that only one nomination is submitted per installation.

Security clearances and mental health—Part 1: Judgment matters

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This article is courtesy of our partners at the Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC) and is the first in their series about mental health and security clearances.

One of the biggest reasons Warfighters hesitate to seek professional mental health care is the commonly held misunderstanding that getting such assistance could impact their security clearances. Here are some basics: The existence of a psychological diagnosis or disorder will not automatically disqualify you from getting or retaining a security clearance. Almost no one has lost a clearance for having a behavioral health diagnosis. Of those who have lost clearances, only 0.04% did so for solely psychological reasons. What’s more, the simple act of meeting with a mental health professional or obtaining mental health care will not automatically result in a loss of clearance. The issue of mental health and security clearance is complex, so it’s important to clear up some common misconceptions about how mental health can impact security clearance status.

HPRC provides a series of articles about mental health and security clearances, beginning with this one on how your good judgment favorably affects your clearance status.

Judgment Matters

The real factors that heavily influence clearance status are whether an individual is trustworthy, dependable, reliable, and shows good judgment. Indeed, the vast majority of revoked or denied clearances occur because the applicant demonstrated a history of poor judgment and questionable decision-making. Infractions such as running up a credit card, getting numerous speeding tickets, or drinking and driving negatively impact clearance status much more commonly. The clearest disqualifier is active involvement with illegal drugs, including medical marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level. Drug use and risky behavior, for example, are symptoms of more serious underlying psychological issues that can indeed impact clearance status. Many people incorrectly attribute negative clearance status to the simple act of seeking help instead of poor judgment and behavior.

Seeking help when you face a problem—including a mental health problem—actually demonstrates trustworthiness, dependability, reliability, and good judgment—the very factors being vetted for a security clearance. Being forthcoming about what you experienced and how you dealt with it by obtaining help from a mental health professional shows mental clarity and self-awareness.

Debrief/Bottom line

Warfighters are expected to have the tactical skills and stamina required to perform at consistently high levels in stressful environments. However, even the strongest have moments in life that might require them to call for support. When you’re struggling, it takes courage to admit it and seek help. Doing so means you’re strong, and it means you have good judgment. Calling for support means that you can stay strong and be prepared for your teammates and your family, both of whom depend on you to stay on top of your game.

Obtaining mental health care when you need it demonstrates good judgment that can be favorably evaluated during a security clearance investigation. All Warfighters need maintenance, from time to time, of their physical and psychological health. Don’t let simple misconceptions about a complex process stand in the way of calling for mental health support. Be proud of yourself for seeking help and be candid during the clearance process. You’ll be glad you did.

References

Defense Human Resources Activity. Welcome to PERSEREC. Retrieved from http://www.dhra.mil/perserec/

U.S. Army Personnel Security. Information on Question 21. Retrieved from http://www.dami.army.pentagon.mil/site/PerSec/Q21.aspx

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. (2014). Seeking Help is a Sign of Strength: Campaign Plan for Promoting Awareness of the Benefits of Help-seeking and Understanding. Question 21 of Standard Form 86. Retrieved from http://www.dami.army.pentagon.mil/site/PerSec/Q21.aspx

United States Office of Personnel Management, & Director of National Intelligence. (2013). Revised Instructions for Completing Question 21, Standard Form 86, “Questionnaire for National Security Positions”.  Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://nbib.opm.gov/hr-security-personnel/federal-investigations-notices/2013/fin-13-02.pdf

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.