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Know the signs - suicide prevention

Know the signs - September is Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide prevention is everyone's responsibility.

Base leadership flank Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien, 96th Test Wing commander, to join his pledge to know and recognize the five signs of emotional distress at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Sept. 5. Dertien pledged to encourage the base community to take care of their emotional well-being. Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility, from the newest Airman to the most senior. Helping our civilian and military Airmen is a top priority for Air Force leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

Know the signs

Courtesy graphic

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Nearly one in every five people, or 43.8 million American adults, has a diagnosable mental health condition.  Often our friends, neighbors, co-workers and even family members are suffering emotionally and don’t recognize the symptoms or won’t ask for help.  Everyone goes through stress in their lives, but often times we don’t reach out for help even though we need it. 

Here are five signs that may mean someone is in emotional pain and might need help:

Personality changes.

You may notice sudden or gradual changes in the way that someone typically behaves. People in this situation may behave in ways that don't seem to fit their values, or the person may just seem different.

Uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated, or moody.

You may notice the person has more frequent problems controlling his or her temper and seems irritable or unable to calm down. People in more extreme situations of this kind may be unable to sleep or may explode in anger at a minor problem.

 
Withdrawal or isolation from other people.

Someone who used to be socially engaged may pull away from family and friends and stop taking part in activities that used to be enjoyable. In more severe cases the person may start failing to make it to work or school. Not to be confused with the behavior of someone who is more introverted, this sign is marked by a change in a persons typical sociability, as when someone pulls away from the social support typically available.

May neglect self-care and engage in risky behavior.

You may notice a change in the person's level of personal care or an act of poor judgment. For instance, someone may let personal hygiene deteriorate, or the person may start abusing alcohol or illicit substances or engaging in other self-destructive behavior that may alienate loved ones.

Overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by circumstances.

Have you noticed someone who used to be optimistic and now cant find anything to be hopeful about? That person may be suffering from extreme or prolonged grief, or feelings of worthlessness or guilt. People in this situation may say that the world would be better off without them, suggesting suicidal thinking.


If you recognize that someone in your life is suffering, now what?

You connect, you reach out, you inspire hope, and you offer help. Show compassion and caring and a willingness to find a solution when the person may not have the will or drive to do it alone. In the right circumstances, those simple, everyday actions really can save a life.

It may take more than one offer, and you may need to reach out to others who share your concern about the person who is suffering. 

There are many resources in our communities to include the Mental Health Clinic, chaplains, employee assistance program, military one source, commanders, and first sergeants just to name a few.  You can find the full list of helping agency resources for Eglin through the helping agency icon on your desk top or by visiting www.eglin.af.mil and clicking on the Helping Agencies link

 
If everyone is more open and honest about our emotional health and well-being, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve.

You can learn more about the five signs of emotional distress and the five signs of emotional wellbeing at changedirection.org.