Take Control: Suicide Awareness

Dr. Kirsten Pollick, mental health department head, Naval Hospital Jacksonville

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A Family Medicine clinical psychologist at Naval Hospital Jacksonville assesses a patient. Clinical psychologists are critical resources for patients seeking mental health counseling.

In recognition of Suicide Awareness Month, it is imperative that we raise awareness of suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide is a complex behavioral response to stress, illness, isolation and substance abuse. A combination of individual, relational, community and societal factors contribute to the risk of suicide. These can range from family and marital discord, financial issues, depression or other mental health concerns, suicidal ideation or prior suicide attempts, impulsive behaviors, substance abuse, lack of sleep, or purposelessness in life. Risk is also associated with changes in brain chemicals that are frequently brought about by alcohol and drug abuse.

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

Suicidal behavior is not specific to gender, race or age according to the National Institute of Mental Health. However, statistics do show that women attempt suicide two to three times more frequently than men, but men fatally wound themselves at four times the rate of women.

Here are five tips to help stay mission ready:

1)    Find time for yourself. Keep a journal, improve your sleep habits, try yoga or

meditation, and participate in activities you enjoy.

2)    Break down obstacles. Break challenges down into small steps that you can tackle

one at a time.

3)    Get your physical training in. Strengthen your muscles, your mind and your focus with regular physical training.

4)    Avoid alcohol and substance misuse. Avoiding substance misuse makes it easier to

manage stress, sleep, relationships and responsibilities.

5)    Identify people you can turn to. Identify a friend, family member, chaplain or health

professional you can speak with.

Effective treatments and interventions are available for depression, situational stressors and other health problems that are risk factors for suicide. Please see your primary care manager, chaplain or mental health provider to find out what options are available to you.

Retirees and family members can call Value Options at 800-700-8646 for care in the TRICARE network. For additional resources call, chat, or text the Veterans Crisis Line (24/7) at

800-273-TALK (8255).

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.

Suicide Prevention is about being there for every sailor and family member, every day.

Naval Hospital 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 Florida and Georgia. There are more than 71,000 active and retired sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, guardsmen and their families enrolled with a primary care manager and Medical Home Port team at one of its facilities. To find out more or download NH Jacksonville’s mobile app, visit the command website at www.med.navy.mil/sites/navalhospitaljax.