Grissom observes National Suicide Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jami Lancette
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

September is National Suicide Prevention month and Grissom’s spotlight is on driving awareness and prevention into daily operations.

“Suicide awareness is not just in September, it should be acknowledged the other eleven months as well,” said Erin Michael-Jollif, 434th Air Refueling Wing director of psychological health.

“We just need to acknowledge that this has been a tough year for everyone and we need to pay attention to our military family and keep the ear to the ground all year.”

Meaningful connection to others is a valuable tool in the prevention of suicide. Airmen must be active in reaching out, both to others who may be in distress and to resources for themselves and others.

“The question becomes, how do you reach out to someone with all of the social distancing and the fact that we come from 31 different states makes it even more of a challenge,” said Michael-Jolliff. “We can use a phone to check on each other, however there’s something to be said with video calls and to being able to physically see someone’s body language and movements which could give a better indicator if they are in distress.”

Stress is a normal part life. Occasionally stressors can be overbearing and inhibit our ability to bounce back faster. For some it can even trigger a state of distress.

“Everyone has buckets of things going on in life and when you add in COVID-19 and social unrest it just adds that much more stress in their bucket making life overwhelming,” said Michael-Jolliff. “When it comes to someone not being okay and suicide becomes a thought I am sort of the last line of defense for people, so its important for loved ones and friends to pay attention each other.

“It’s important for their fellow Airmen to watch for the signs and changes in behavior of one another and to make the important steps in taking care of each other,” added Michael-Jolliff.

Common signs of distress include: Mood changes, irritability and anger, difficulties sleeping and withdrawing from friends and family.

“We all have at some point have went to a dark place with our thoughts during a rougher time and had difficulty pulling our self out of that sate,” said Michael Jolliff. “That’s when its takes their family and friends to step-in.”

Whether on base or at home even in another state, Michael-Jolliff is available around the clock for Airmen in need.

“Im available 24 hours-a-day seven days-a-week,” said Michael-Jolliff. “Please don’t suffer on your own. I can get the help that Airmen need in any state that they are in, and I can find it for free.

“We offer a lot of different resources for Airmen here and it is completely confidential,” she added.

Michael-Jolliff can be reached at (765)688-4060
Airmen can also contact the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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