Suicide Awareness Month: Each Airmen Matters

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Challen Haywood
  • 916th Air Refueling Wing

916th Air Refueling Wing and 4th fighter Wing join forces to take care of Airmen and build strong connections at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Since 2010, an average of 76 Airmen lose their lives to suicide per year.  Suicide awareness month allows for us to take a step back from the everyday norm and focus on caring for one another to help reduce risk of suicide.

Mrs. Jennifer Price, 916th Air Refueling Wing Director of Psychological Health, explains the importance of suicide awareness month and the role it plays in preventing our wingman from falling victim to a silent killer.

Price emphasized how even though September allows the opportunity to highlight suicide prevention awareness, it’s a topic discussed throughout the year.  

“This is an opportunity to navigate through barriers that may or may not exist for Airmen, to promote forming connections, and to share ways that we can form connections within the 916th,” said Price.

Mr. Jeff Craver, 4th Fighter Wing Violence Prevention Integrator, works closely with Price to find solutions meeting the needs of the Airmen. Craver gives some crucial warning signs to look for.

 “Any kind of financial troubles, work troubles, and the UCMJ for example, those are all risk factors. In fact, the Air Force just released that an Airman who is under investigation is 18 times more at risk for suicide,” said Craver.

By taking time to listen and remain engaged in conversation we are more successful in showing we care for one another. Craver adds members should be on guard daily and remain in tune with coworkers’ behaviors as warning signs can be subtle while others may be overt.

The Air Force uses Ask, Care, Escort to help streamline Airman to the appropriate resource by maintaining a caring conversation. Craver explains the ACE model is most effective when we continue to show concern and empathy towards an airman in need all the way through the steps and after that airman has been escorted to the right resource.

“Part of care is asking the person what resource they’re comfortable going to,” said Craver.

“I’m going to wait, I’m going to pause, and let them decide,” said Craver. “Then I’m going to escort them through that process, I’m going to care for them through that process.”

The 916th ARW is equipped with multiple resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideation. 

Price understands finding the right resource can be difficult and guides members to the helping agency matrix specific to the 916th located on the wing app, SharePoint and website.

Among the resources available is the Go SLO campaign for members who own firearms. The acronym SLO stands for Safes, Locks, Outside the home. The campaign is trying to put time between the firearm and the individual who may be struggling to allow for rational thought to engage. 

Craver stated, “The number one death by suicide is privately owned firearms and with the Go SLO campaign, we just want to put time between the individual and a lethal means.”

By using gun safes and gun locks the firearms can be properly stored within the home. If the individual doesn’t have a proper way to store the firearm then they are encouraged to use a local armory to store the weapon outside the home.

By providing our fellow wingmen with better options and getting them more resources, the 916th ARW and Air Force Reserve Command hope to save lives one Airman at a time.

Members experiencing challenges affecting their mental health are encouraged to contact Mrs. Jennifer Price at 919-722-1899 or The 916th Chaplain is also available and can be contacted at 919-722-0315.

Anyone experiencing an immediate mental health crisis should call 911, or the National Suicide Helpline at 1-800-273-8255.