Military News

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chaplain's office cares for Airmen

by Staff Sgt. Debbie Lockhart
50th Space Wing Public Affairs


9/9/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- September is Suicide Prevention month and Air Force Space Command Chaplains want to ensure people know they're here, and they care.

"Our job is to care about people and we love that," said Chaplain (Capt.) Jennifer Ray, 50 SW.

Chaplains and chaplain's assistants offer privileged communication with 100 percent confidentiality to anyone feeling the need to talk.

"Privileged, 100 percent confidential communication means anything someone tells us is between us and them," said Staff Sgt. Jacqulyn Rider, 50 SW chaplain's assistant.

Although the chaplain's office can offer counseling to those who need it, Ray insists that it is important for family, coworkers and friends to be aware of red flags or signs that something is wrong.

"Red flags can be subtle," said Ray. "I find that people often when they are contemplating suicide it isn't that they want to die, but they want to escape from whatever their reality is at the time. It's the subtle things, the signs of depression that can lead to wanting to escape from reality."

Warning signs of depression or suicide can include: changes in routine, deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble eating or sleeping, making comments about being hopeless or worthless, putting affairs into order, sudden changes in mood or change in character.

"It is important to talk about these things with someone while they're still small things, before they grow into bigger things and it snowballs," said Ray.

"The biggest resource that we have as a chapel office and as Airmen is personal accountability," said Ray. "For us to check on people and to encourage others to always check on each other -- it is one of the most important things we can do."

Rider added that noticing changes in others and directly asking difficult questions if needed, can save lives.

"I don't want supervisors or friends to be afraid of asking the question," said Rider. "Don't be scared to ask because if someone is coming to you, they may want you to be the one to ask - 'are you thinking about hurting yourself?'"

The chaplain's office can also help and offer encouragement to those who may need help asking the hard questions.

"I just hope people can be encouraged to [talk about their feelings] every once in a while," said Ray. "We all want to be strong, but I think it takes more strength to talk about problems than to hold it in."

The chaplain's office is only one resource for those who may be contemplating hurting themselves or suicide, but there are many more.

- DoD/VA Suicide Outreach: DCoE Outreach Center: Provides psychological health information and connects service members/families with resources. Call 1-866-966-1020 or visit http://www.suicideoutreach.org/dcoe_outreach.

- Military One Source: Free service provided by the DOD to service members and their families to help with a broad range of concerns. Services are available 24 hours a day -- by telephone and online. Call 1-800-342-9647 or visit  http://www.militaryonesource.com/skins/MOS/home.aspx.

- If someone you know is in distress or may be contemplating suicide, they can contact the Military Crisis Line immediately via phone, online chat, or text message. Just call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1; visit www.militarycrisisline.net; or text 838255. Trained professionals are always there -- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For other resources, visit http://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/suicidepreventio

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