Community suicide prevention propells unified response



by Capt. Chad E. Morrow
42nd Mental Health Flight


10/7/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Air Force has one of the best, if not the best, suicide prevention programs in the world. One major reason for the success of the Air Force Suicide Prevention Program is it relies on the Wingman philosophy, making suicide prevention everyone's business and responsibility. When a life is lost to suicide, the entire community is affected. Thus, even the smallest prevention efforts can save the lives of our Airmen and community members, whether active duty, Reserve, Guard, contractor or civilian.

Each Air Force base has personnel who lead base suicide prevention efforts. These personnel are not always available to Guard and Reserve Airmen due to location (i.e. geographically separated unit), manning, or a myriad of other reasons. Therefore, many of the Guard and Reserve Airmen often seek medical or psychological care from civilian providers who do not receive advanced suicide prevention training.

As a result, the Maxwell Integrated Delivery Service, or IDS, team will collaborate with the Alabama chapter of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention to increase suicide prevention in the local community. AFSP is the leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education.

Since 2000, AFSP has invested millions of dollars in new studies and provided education and disseminated information through various methods. In fact, one of AFSP's primary means of raising awareness and funding for suicide prevention is through awareness walks, such as the "Out of the Darkness Alabama Walk."

Last year, the Out of the Darkness Alabama Walk raised more than $140,000 for the state and $5.7 million nationally. As a result of the IDS efforts and assistance last year, AFSP awarded Maxwell IDS $15,000 to train TRICARE empanelled primary care providers and mental health providers, both active duty and civilian throughout Alabama, on empirically supported suicide prevention and intervention techniques.

The goal is to train 490 providers to effectively manage at-risk military members and, ultimately, to prevent suicide.

In the absence of Out of the Darkness Alabama Walk events planned for the city of Montgomery and surrounding areas this year, the Maxwell IDS has decided to create a Birmingham team to continue to assist AFSP in raising awareness for suicide prevention. This event will be held at Heardmont Park in Birmingham from 2:30 - 4 p.m. Nov. 6.

For information on joining a team and raising awareness for community suicide prevention, follow the directions below:

Visit www.outofthedarkness.org.
  • Click "Find an event near you! Click Here" in the top right corner.
  • Choose "Alabama US" from the drop/down menu.
  • Click the text that reads: "Alabama Walk, Heardmont Park-Birmingham, Alabama"
  • In the far right column (near the bottom of the screen) under "Top Teams," click the icon that reads "View more."
  • Click the name of the team: "Maxwell/Gunter AFB IDS."
  • Finally, click the icon that reads "Join this team." (Please note: The primary goal is to increase awareness; therefore, you are not obligated to walk or donate.)
The Maxwell IDS believes that together, as a community, we can continue to significantly improve our suicide prevention programs/interventions. For information, contact Capt. Chad Morrow or Capt. John Noah at the mental health clinic at 953-5430 or DSN 493-5430.