Suicide Prevention: The mental fight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Editors note: this is the second article in a series of stories focusing on suicide prevention.

Suicide is a major concern in the United States and it's prevention is a high priority in the Department of Defense. One of the main effects of suicidal thoughts is the influence on a person's physical and mental health.

"Individuals often stop doing the things they previously enjoyed," said Capt. Jason Mitchell, 90th Medical Operations Squadron. "This level of inactivity often leads to a cycle of worsening mental and physical difficulties."

Suicidal thoughts take a toll on a persons mental health, said Glenn Garcia, 90th MDOS Family Advocacy.

"Individuals are often depressed, hopeless, and feel like they are a burden to friends, family, and co-workers," Mitchell said.

As the mental strain builds, people begin to get down on themselves, causing low confidence and a negative outlook on life.

"The biggest issue is people develop a sense of failure, like they are incompetent or incapable," Garcia said. "They feel like no one values them, like no one cares for them, like no one loves them. Keeping a positive self importance is key in maintaining resilient in times of crisis."

Although mental struggles can be hidden, it is possible to see warning signs.

"Suicidal feelings lead to isolation and withdrawal from friends, family, activities and social groups," Garcia said. "This bleeds into both their social life and their work. People begin to make mistakes in their work, leading to poor work performance which can lead to trouble."

When this begins to happen, the most important thing is to talk to someone, he said.

"Social support is one of the most important factors in remaining resilient and recovering from mental health difficulties," Mitchell said. "By reaching out, we often learn that we are not alone; sometimes our closest friends have had similar struggles in their life, and the people around us can often encourage early behavior change like becoming more active and engaged in community or work setting."

Social support can help us remain mentally resilient, Garcia said.

"We tend to get hung up on things we can't control," he said. "These things can bring us down when they don't go our way. Instead, we need to focus on the things we can control: our social connections with those around us, an exercise plan, our spirituality and how we perceive ourselves."

Resiliency and balance can help prevent the thoughts of suicide, and there are many resources available to help, Garcia said.

"A good place to start is the quick reference guides around base," he said. "We have resources that deal with some of the bigger concerns: parenting, relationships and stress. If those don't work, seek professional help."

The 90th MDG Mental Health Clinic provides resources to help build resiliency and maintain balance in one's life.

"The Mental Health Clinic offers a variety of services like individual therapy, group therapy, education classes, medication and more," Mitchell said. "Mental health therapy is an additional support that can serve the same function: assisting in problem solving, developing additional coping skills, and providing a place to vent frustrations and/or express our emotions openly."

Garcia said early intervention is key in maintaining mental resiliency. 

The Mental Health Clinic is not the only source available to help those with suicidal thoughts.
· The 90th Missile Wing Chaplains office provides confidential peer counselling and can be reached at 773-3434.
· The military and family life consultants at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center can  provide confidential service and can be contacted at 307-275-2460 for adults or 307-275-2572 children.
· provides access to self-help resources and can assist in locating other therapy services.
· The Suicide Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 is available 24-hours a day with military specific providers who are knowledgeable with the resources available.