Military News

Monday, March 02, 2015

Sometimes, all you need is a friend

by Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


2/27/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Sometimes, feeling down or being in a bad mood can spiral you into a deep and dark place where you start to feel helpless.

You may start to believe that no one cares about you or understands the situation you are in. Problems might begin to snowball and the next thing you know, you could find yourself convinced life isn't worth living anymore.

This is a cold and sad reality some people find themselves in. However, thanks to the military's strong focus on suicide prevention, there are many avenues available for individuals who might be contemplating taking their own life.

Sometimes, all a person really needs is a friend.

Recently, two Airmen here started to notice something might be going on with one of their good friends.

"We saw the breadcrumbs which led us to the problem," said Senior Airman William Sines, 709th Munitions Squadron weapons maintenance team member.

"It was during the holiday season, so we thought maybe he was lonely or feeling down," added Senior Airman Mark Folse, 709th Munitions Squadron.

The breadcrumbs they spoke of were indicators that maybe something was wrong.

"We heard he was walking around Warrensburg, Mo., handing out large amounts of money," Sines said.

"He tried to play it off as like a good Samaritan thing, like he was paying it forward," said Folse.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, they didn't look too much more into it until another indicator reared its head.

"His mother sent a message to another one of our friends and asked 'Hey, can you guys go check on him?'," said Sines. "It was nothing too big at that moment and we still didn't really suspect it at the time.

At that point we were considering that we should just try to get him out of his place," Sines continued. "It wasn't obvious at that point, we just thought maybe he was feeling lonely or down."

Soon after, Folse received yet another message from a mutual friend saying she was concerned as well.

Realizing their friend might be in dire need, Folse and Sines decided to intervene.

"We met up with the shirt and went to our friend's place, but his car wasn't there," said Folse. "I checked the front door and it was open."

After entering the apartment and realizing their friend was not there, they knew this was a serious situation.

"After realizing the door was unlocked, that's when my heart sank," said Sines. "After looking around we saw some key indicators and knew we needed to find him right then."

Their friend had some common indicators evident on his computer desk. Ammunition, medication and alcohol; a potentially fatal combination.

"We realized this was a major, major concern," said Sines. "We were considering where else we could look for him and it turned out he had just left to get food so we got extremely lucky he came back."

Sines and Folse showed their friend something that a lot of people are afraid to--tough love.

"We basically cornered him and let him know we knew something was going on," Sines said. "We told him what we found in his apartment and that we knew what his plans were. At first he was kind of standoffish but we just started picking away at the armor. The next morning, we went to mental health."

By intervening and supporting their friend, they potentially saved his life.

Sines and Folse recognized the signs and stepped up to own the problem. Without hesitation, they were there for their friend.

"Before we went to his place we were thinking there's only going to be three possible outcomes to this. He's either going to hate us forever, love us forever or we're not going to get there in time," said Sines. "Luckily we did get there in time. We're all still good friends. He actually comes over to the house even more than he used to."

Even though their friend may still have his ups and downs, he now knows that he has a support system within his friends.

"The cool thing is that he will sometimes have bad days and he'll just randomly show up at our place and start venting about things," said Sines. "We opened up that bridge for him and he knows we are here for him. When you get in a dark place, you think that nobody loves you or that you don't have any friends. The biggest thing we showed him is that a lot of people care."

Their friend is now on the right path, out of his dark place.

"He's been doing well and is back at work," Folse said. "If you are ever concerned about a friend, don't be afraid to say something. In the end, they will thank you."

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