Suicide is a serious concern in military communities; service members and their families deal with a great number of stressors. You can help reduce the risk of suicide. Pay attention to those around you — or reach out to talk to someone if you feel you can’t cope.
Recognizing the warning signs of suicide risk
You can help reduce the risk of suicide by offering support to those around you, and seeking help if you need it yourself. Keep an eye out for friends, family or coworkers distancing themselves from their community, unit or loved ones. Seek help if a person:
- Talks or writes about suicide, death or ways to die
- Threatens to hurt or kill themselves
- Tries to obtain pills, guns or other means of self-harm
- Suffers a sudden or dramatic change in mood or behavior
- Expresses feeling hopeless or trapped
- Begins preparing a will, giving away possessions or making arrangements for pets
- Suffers from intense rage or desire for revenge
- Increases alcohol or drug use
When a service member may be at risk for suicide
A service member could be at greater risk for suicide when he or she is having a negative experience or prolonged constant stress and if one of the following criteria is met:
- Being a young, unmarried male
- A recent return from deployment
- Combat-related psychological injuries
- Lack of advancement or career setback
- A sense of a loss or honor, disciplinary actions
- Relationship problems
- Grief from loss
- Heavy drinking or other substance use problems
- Mental or medical health problems
- Negative attitude toward getting help
Acting on warning signs
Suicidal people sometimes have mixed feelings about ending their lives and either intentionally or unintentionally signal their intentions. Contact a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 if you see one of these warning signs:
- Feeling hopeless or trapped
- Dramatic mood changes
- Threatens to hurt or kill himself or herself
- Unusual spending
- Withdrawn from society
- Intense rage or desire for revenge
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Tries to get pills or guns
- Preparing a will
- Talks or writes about ways to die
If you believe a person is in immediate danger of suicide:
- Stay until help arrives. Never leave a person experiencing suicidal thoughts alone.
- Remove any weapons, drugs or other means of self-injury from the area.
- If you’re on the phone, try to keep him or her on the line while you or someone else calls 911, the Military Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255, or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Keep talking until help arrives.
If the person is unwilling to accept help, contact command or law enforcement.
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in a state of crisis, you can contact the Military Crisis Line 24 hours a day (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1). You can also start a conversation via online chat or text (838255).
Note: Military OneSource does not provide medical counseling services for issues such as depression, substance abuse, suicide prevention or post-traumatic stress disorder. This article is intended for informational purposes only. Military OneSource can provide referrals to your local military treatment facility, TRICARE or another appropriate resource.