The health and well-being of service members, Department of Defense civilian employees and families is paramount for force readiness, said the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr. on Oct. 25.
"Every single one of us faces stress, anxiety and life challenges, and each of us responds to them differently," he said in the memo. "For some, these experiences can increase the risk of suicide. By being there for one another, helping to navigate challenges in healthy ways, and leveraging resources throughout the year, we can remain strong, together."
While Suicide Prevention Month ended in September, it is no reason to think DOD's role to prevent suicide ends there, Cisneros said, adding that more work must be done as long as the issue exists. DOD is continuing its suicide prevention campaign with the theme Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach. The campaign highlights the critical role connections to family, friends, community and resources play in helping to prevent suicide, he noted.
When you need to reach out, do it, Cisneros said. Besides mental health counseling services, chaplains and faith leaders and other resources are available. Connect with Military OneSource for non-crisis support, for issues surrounding relationships, families and financial challenges.
Military OneSource provides free and confidential 24/7 support to service members and their families at 800-342-9647 or live chat. DOD civilians can seek help through the Employee Assistance Program, and that information is available through human resources. The DOD EAP provides resources, information and confidential help 24/7 at 800-222-0364 or TTY 888-262-7848.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the confidential 24/7 Veterans and Military Criss Line or confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255; TTY by dialing 777 then 1-800-273-8255, or text 838255; or chat. In OCONUS, in Europe, call 00800 1273 8255 or DSN 118; in Korea, call 0808 555 118 or DSN 118
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for all Americans is 800-273-8255; TTY users, dial 711 and then 1-800-273-8255. Alternatively, visit the suicide prevention lifeline website and chat.
Cisneros said everyone plays an essential part in suicide prevention. Those in crisis should know they are not alone. Reach out and let others know you are there for them.
"Each and every day, we must take care of ourselves, our loved ones and our battle buddies. We are all in this together, and together we can save lives."