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552 participates in suicide prevention month

Members of the 552nd Air Control Wing participate in a bridge chat discussion (Courtesy photo).

Members of the 552nd Air Control Wing participate in a bridge chat discussion (Courtesy photo).

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

While the Department of Defense recognizes September as the National Suicide Prevention Month, the 552nd Air Control Wing plans to take several initiatives of their own to highlight the topic’s importance within the wing.

“Suicide, depression, and anxiety hits close to home for Airmen in the 552nd ACW, the Air Force, and members of the military in general,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Taylor, wing integrated resilience manager. ”This does not discriminate on age, gender or rank. For this reason, it’s important every Airmen is equipped with the tools to take care of themselves and be able to recognize signs of others who may be suffering.”

Initiatives the 552nd ACW will be implementing include mental health first aid classes, prevention tips, bridge chat discussion, and a suicide awareness virtual walk/5k from Sept. 16-20.

Many are unaware that all Airmen are able to receive additional mental health first aid training. This training, led by the 72nd Community Support Coordinator, teaches signs, symptoms and risk factors of depression and how to respond in events of a mental health crisis. Training is currently virtual due to COVID-19. For more information, Airmen can ask their leadership or contact the 552d Integrated Resilience Manager at 734-1123 or the 72nd CSC at 405-336-3215.  

The wing also plans to use the 552nd ACW Facebook page to release daily prevention tips. These tips include signs and symptoms, warning signs of others, resources, connection recommendations, coping strategies, and overview of the “connect to protect” pledge.

The last initiative is a bridge chat discussion. Bridge chats are rather new to the wing, where small groups meet monthly to discuss hard topics. This concept formed after last year’s Resiliency Tactical Pause and this year’s discussions on Diversity and Inclusion. The topic for this chat is wingman intervention. Within this meeting, Airmen will converse about bystander intervention, signs and symptoms of depression and ally support. This bridge chat will allow for an interactive discussion on suicide prevention all while strengthening the unit’s bond.

Within the chat, the unit’s will also review mental health options. These include the Mental Health Clinic, Military One Source, Crisis Text Line, the Base Chapel, Military and Family Life Counseling, the National Suicide Hotline and the Employee Assistance Program.

The full-list of mental health options can be found here. The virtual walk registration can be found here.

As suicide statistics for the Air Force are at an all-time high, it is crucial now more than ever to ensure Airmen know how to take care of themselves, know how to take care of others, and are able to voice their opinions or concerns on this topic.