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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.