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Seeking help for suicidal ideation is a sign of strength

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The power of one: Veterans Suicide Crisis Hotline

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the U.S. in 2013 — a rate of about 113 deaths each day.

Building resilience and preventing suicide requires all members of the Navy and community to work together.

Suicide prevention is about being there for every Sailor, Marine, and family member, every day.

“People are our greatest asset,” said Dr. Kirsten Pollick, Naval Hospital (NH) Jacksonville’s Mental Health Clinic department head and neuropsychologist. “Our goal is to reduce the risk factors for suicide and strengthen the factors that promote resilience.”

Suicide can be a complex behavioral response influenced by a multitude of factors within one’s personal life experience. These potentially include individual, relational, community, or societal circumstances; or any combination thereof. Specific risk factors and stressors associated with suicidality have been linked to illness, isolation, family and marital discord, financial issues, depressive disorders or other mental health concerns — including prior suicidal ideation or attempts — impulsive behaviors, lack of sleep, or changes in brain chemicals due to alcohol or drug abuse.

Warning signs include thoughts or comments about suicide, substance abuse, purposelessness, anxiety, feeling trapped or hopeless, withdrawal, anger, recklessness, and mood changes.

Effective treatments and interventions are available for depression, situational stressors, and other health problems that are risk factors for suicide. Understanding warning signs and risk factors can help prevent, identify, and enable early intervention to save lives.

Tips to help Sailors and Marines stay mission-ready include:

Find time for oneself — Improve sleep habits, try yoga or meditation, participate in enjoyable activities.

Break down obstacles — Break challenges down into small steps and tackle one at a time.

Improve physical conditioning — Regular physical training strengthens the muscles and the mind.

Avoid alcohol and substance misuse — In order to manage stress, sleep, relationships, and responsibilities.

Identify people to turn to when in need — Identify a friend, family member, chaplain, or health care professional to speak with.

For free, confidential support 24/7, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (8255), text message to 838255, or chat online at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/. The Crisis Line is available to current and former service members, their families, and friends.

Active-duty personnel can schedule an appointment with their primary care manager (PCM) at 904-546-7094. The PCM can make a referral to mental health. For urgent needs, the Mental Health Clinic is available for walk-ins. Call the Mental Health Clinic at 904-546-6351 for more information. The Deployment Health Center (904-546-7099) also offers pre- and post-deployment physical and mental health services.

Family members, retirees, and retiree families can call TRICARE Value Options at 800-700-8646 for mental health care. In addition, the hospital’s family medicine clinic has mental health specialists on-site.

For someone in immediate danger, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. Remember to ACT (Ask, Care, Treat). ASK if someone is depressed and if they are thinking about suicide. Let them know you CARE. Get them assistance (TREATment) as soon as possible.

Every life lost to suicide is one too many.

Marking its 75th year, NH Jacksonville’s priority since its founding in 1941 is to heal the nation’s heroes and their families. The command is comprised of the Navy’s third largest hospital and five branch health clinics across Floridaand Georgia. Of its patient population — 163,000 active and retired Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, guardsmen, and their families — about 85,000 are enrolled with a primary care manager and Medical Home Port team at one of its facilities.

To find out more or download the command’s mobile app, visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/navalhospitaljax/.

For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy.

By Yan Kennon

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