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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


1. September is Suicide Prevention Month and this year’s goal is to increase awareness
that suicide can be prevented.  Although it is difficult to know why people end their
own lives, some of the reasons include not knowing where to go for help, the perceived
stigma of reaching out, and neglecting personal and family social, psychological, and 
spiritual fitness.  By taking action when it is uncomfortable, and by developing and 
maintaining personal and family resilience, suicidal behavior can be stopped.
2. From CY2012 to 2014, 25 active duty Coast Guard (CG) members committed suicide;  
since October 2014, there have been 11.  Although suicide is the second leading cause 
of death for 15-24 year olds, and is the tenth leading cause of death for people of
all ages in the U.S., many never receive effective behavioral health services for the
concerns leading to that decision.
3. The Commandant’s prevailing message now, and throughout the year, is simple:
Don’t go it alone!  Too often shame or stigma prevents us from reaching out for help, 
even though there are ample resources available.  We, as individuals, and those in
leadership positions, must be vigilant, and continually reinforce the fact that
asking for help is not only a sign of strength, but also a critical step to recovery.
4. In addition to building personal and family strength, it is important to learn to
identify and respond to suicidal signs.  Family members, close friends, shipmates,
and commanders may be in the best position to identify harmful thoughts or behaviors
and offer help.  A few common behaviors that suggest an individual may be considering
suicide are: withdrawal, anger, mood changes, giving away possessions, increase or
misuse of alcohol and drugs, feelings of being trapped or hopeless, or loss of life’s
5. There are many sources of help for people having suicidal thoughts and for those
dealing with a suicidal loved one. If there is an immediate chance of someone doing
self harm or if someone has attempted suicide, treat it as a medical emergency and
call 911.  For information about suicide and resources for those in need of help,
consider these programs and services: 
     A. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-TALK at any time.
Speak with someone who can help you talk about your situation and identify resources.
For more information go to:
     B. CG SUPRT: Call 1-855-CGSUPRT (1-855-247-8778) toll-free at any time.  This
is the CG Employee Assistance Program, available to assist active duty members,
SELRES, civilian employees, and their family members with issues such as financial
matters, relationships, and other stressors that can lead to suicidal thoughts.
CG SUPRT can assist in an emergency, provide counseling, and help you obtain
resources.  Additional information and resources are available at: 
     C. Contact a CG medical clinic, Employee Assistance Program Coordinator, or
Chaplain.  Contact information can be found at 
     D. For additional information about suicide and CG policies on suicide
prevention go to 
5.  I strongly encourage commanding officers/officers-in-charge to implement
initiatives to develop a unit culture that promotes help-seeking behavior and stigma
reduction.  Begin by using this message as a starting point for unit discussion and
education on this topic.  Paramount in that discussion is the need to convey the
message that it is our collective responsibility to help each other manage life’s
challenges.  Don’t let any member of our CG family go it alone!
6. POCs for this issue are the EAP Program Manager, Lisa Teems, 
Lisa.A.Teems(at) or 202-475-5157 and HSWL Service Center Work-Life Division
Chief, CDR Jerald Mahlau-Heinert, Jerald.L.Mahlau-Heinert(at) or

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