Taking steps to make the safeTALK

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Hurlburt Field is a base that cares about its people. We realize each and every one of you is vital to the mission, the success of the base and the functioning of the local community. Each one of you, regardless of your career field, play a dynamic role no matter how small you may feel your part is. Without each of you, our mission and our part in the big scale of things Air Force-wide could not be accomplished. We are very proud to have you here serving as Air Commandos.

Our Commando Ready program is an example of one way we take care of the people we care about. The program is in place to assist each and every one of you with additional tools for coping, communicating and providing awareness about the risks of suicide.

The suicide alertness for everyone, Talk, Ask, Listen, Keepsafe (SafeTALK) course held here is one way we can heighten each Air Commando's knowledge about the risks of suicide, the signals someone may exhibit when contemplating suicide, and the resources that are available here and in the surrounding community to assist in preventing the loss of just one of our fellow Airmen. Every life is valuable and suicide has no bias.

Our goal here is to remove the stigmas and understand that suicide is a tough subject to discuss. We want people to be able to feel comfortable expressing when they are dealing with something, struggling with a tough situation or when they feel like all the odds are against them. We can encourage that person, lift them up and help them past the issue to produce a stronger, more capable Air Commando who will be able to cope and handle an adverse situation in the future.

At the end of each safeTALK course, we ask for feedback. A few things mentioned in our last feedback caught our eye, and we wanted to address them.

One of the feedback items from the course was, “Does asking someone directly about suicide put the idea into their head?”

If you ask a person if they are thinking about committing suicide, it does not put the idea into their head. If they are at the point where they feel hopeless, they are already thinking it and asking is better than avoiding the issue. If you ask and they are so desperate that they say "yes," then you can lead them to a resource and get them the help they need. Hopefully, you receive a sincere "no." That person may just need someone to vent to, get a handle on the situation or see the need to refocus their thoughts.

Other feedback we received from the course explained that the individual who had attended the course had seen many suicides throughout their career and none had sent signals.

Through LivingWorks, SafeTALK and applied suicide intervention skills training (ASIST), our base is spreading the word that we are trying to make our Air Commandos capable, approachable and available to assist an individual dealing with suicide ideologies. There are those who do not display signs, but most individuals who are considering suicide show signs, or as the course instructors call it, invitations.

I encourage you to have open lines of communication on the subject with those around you making it easier to assist someone who may need a helping hand, an open mind and a caring ear. We have many resources on base including the Preservation of the Force and Family program, the Resilience Center, Military Family and Life Counselor program, Family Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Chaplain, Airmen and Family Readiness Center, Military One Source and more.

If you are interested in the training or would just like to discuss the subject matter further, please feel free to contact myself at 884-6820 or Tech. Sgt. Jameson Thornton at 884-8811.

Welcome to Hurlburt Field where every one of our Airmen are cared for, valued and a priceless asset!