Connect to Protect to Prevent Suicide

  • Published
  • By Dr. Stephanie Grant, Director of Psychological Health
  • 144th Fighter Wing

Fellow Griffins, each September, we join the Department of Defense in promoting Suicide Prevention Month to educate our community about suicide prevention, resources, and steps everyone can take to protect one another against suicide. During this time we want to highlight resources across military communities and share ways to take simple action to “Be There” for others and ourselves.

This year’s Suicide Prevention Month campaign slogan is Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach. It highlights the importance of connection with family, friends, and members of the community. Research indicates that connectedness is a protective factor against some of the risk factors for suicide, such as loneliness or feeling like a burden.  The slogan reinforces how everyone within reach – leaders, service members, friends, and family members – can play a role in preventing suicide.

We all experience tough times in our personal lives, and no one is immune. Sometimes we can manage life’s struggles on our own using resilience skills. Other times our burdens become more than we can handle on our own, and that’s okay. In these times, we need support to aid us in recovery. There is no shame in relying on others for this support. Remember, our combined strength is much greater than any one of us on our own!

Take stock of your challenges. What challenges has life presented you with? What are you struggling with right now? Explicitly identifying these obstacles can often make it easier to find a concrete way forward. Good self-care is also of utmost importance at these times!

Rely on people you trust for support. When a burden is consuming your thoughts, it can be helpful to unload it with a trusted confidant. You may be surprised to hear other people have encountered something similar, and they may have advice for what has worked well for them.

Know your breaking point. We all can face fatigue from time to time; know when you need to take a knee, refocus your priorities, or attend to your needs. Only then will you be able to recover and resume the fight as strong as (or even stronger than) before.

Ask for help BEFORE you are in dire need. Stop the boulder before it begins rolling down the hill. It is much more effective to overcome a difficult situation before it gains too much momentum. There’s a wealth of military resources available to assist folks in tough times, and remember that you can always start with your Wing Chaplain or Wing Director of Psychological Health for guidance on how best to proceed!

During September and throughout the year, your Griffin Care and Resilience Team will host a variety of events and activities to emphasize the importance of connection. In addition to providing information and resources to prevent suicide, we hope to provide opportunities for you to make more meaningful and lasting connections.

Please see below for additional resources that are available to military members and their families:

Military Health Resources

Service members and veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Service member or veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans/Military Crisis Line for confidential support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at

InTransition Program

The inTransition Program is a free confidential program that provides specialized coaching and assistance for service members, National Guard members, reservists, veterans, and retirees who need access to mental health care when relocating to another assignment, returning from deployment, transitioning between active duty and a reserve component, preparing to leave military service, any other time they need a new mental health provider, or need a provider for the first time.

Military Crisis Line

The Military Crisis Line, text-messaging service, and online chat provide free support for all service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, and all veterans, even if they are not registered with the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) or enrolled in VA health care.

Military Health System Web Pages:

These two webpages provide resources and information about the Military Health System’s mental health services.

Military Medical Treatment Facilities

Mental health often provide mental health services, including integrated behavioral health clinics. Contact your primary care manager to see if this resource is available at your local military hospital or clinic. If it is, then you can schedule an appointment same day. To find your military hospital or clinic:

Military One Source

Military OneSource can provide access to confidential Military Family Life Counselors in your community. Military OneSource also provides resources so you can manage stress and access benefits and tools that will help you stay strong in body and mind. This page provides access to self-care mobile applications developed within the Department of Defense, VA and other partners. All mobile applications are free for iOS and/or Android devices.

Psychological Health Resource Center

The Psychological Health Resource Center is available 24/7 for service members, veterans, and family members with questions about psychological health topics. Trained mental health consultants can help you access mental health care and community support resources in your local area.

Real Warriors Campaign

The Real Warriors Campaign aims to break down the stigma associated with mental health care and encourages service members to reach out for help when they need it. Find articles with support resources, video profiles with service member and veteran stories, and materials to download or order.

Air Force Resilience Resources

VAantage Point: Coping with Current Events in Afghanistan

This VA Blog addresses the events unfolding in Afghanistan and encourages veterans to talk with friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services.