Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Suicide is Preventable and Should Be Treated Like a Health Problem

Drunk man sits on sofa with his head in his hands. He is in mental pain. Suicide awareness is a serious issue. If you are having suicidal thoughts or plans, seek help. Time is of the essence.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a health issue that needs to be treated to reduce risks – similar to the way heart disease needs treatment to prevent a heart attack, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alexander Silva, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Mental Health Clinic, 316th Medical Squadron, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

"Suicide can be prevented," Silva said, and should be destigmatized within our entire culture.

"There is no single cause and that's the biggest takeaway."

One-quarter of all Americans will experience a mental health issue, but "don't think they are doomed to die by suicide," Silva said. He spoke at a Sept. 16 Defense Health Agency event at headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, part of awareness events that were held throughout National Suicide Prevention Week corresponding to World Suicide Prevention Day, which is recognized annually on Sept. 10. He was speaking in his capacity as a representative of a suicide prevention organization.

Health factors often play a role in suicide, especially after life-changing events such as chronic pain from a car accident, Silva said.

While many think of depression as a trigger for suicide, Silva emphasized that "anxiety is a major factor," as are substance use disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders. "It's not just depression."

However, "those in mental health care have a much lower risk of suicide" than those who are not, he said.

Noting that there is "a lot of circumstantial evidence" about suicide that has been compiled over the last few decades, Silva said: "Hopefully, we can move toward harder, empirical evidence in an attempt to decrease suicide rates.

Time is Most Important in a Crisis

He also suggested that "all people should go through therapy" at some point in their lives. "Only 2 in 5 with a mental health condition seek treatment," Silva noted.

"The most important thing about suicide prevention is time," he told the audience.

If you are with a person in crisis "don't leave that person alone." Talk to them and keep the focus on that person. Ask them: "How would you do it if you did want to do it?" Silva suggested.

Get them help right away, and talk to them directly about whether they are actively contemplating suicide. It can be an "uncomfortable conversation," but one that must be had, Silva suggested. "Time will bring the suicidal crisis down."

"It's easy to confuse being a therapist and being a support system," he said. "Avoid trying to convince them that life is worth living. Avoid advice on how to fix the situation." Instead, he said: "Validate and ask for more information and listen."

"We have a moral duty to protect each other," said United States Public Health Service Capt. Meghan Corso, chief, Defense Health Agency Behavioral Health Clinical Operations. "And, there is no wrong door to seeking help," be it a financial advisor, faith leader, or mental health professional, she told the audience.

The Risks of Firearms

DOD data show the most common lethal means of suicide is personal firearms.

Half of all suicides in the United States are due to firearms, Silva added.

Data show that "storing a loaded firearm in the house makes suicide four to six times more likely," Silva said.

The most important thing is "to put distance and time between firearms and a person in crisis," he said. "When you increase the distance, there is some cool-down time." That means locking personal firearms away. "That's because for every suicide, we have 25 attempts."

For help for you, a loved one, or a friend, contact:

National Suicide Prevention Week is an annual week-long campaign in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and signs of suicide.

By drawing attention to the problem of suicide, the campaign strives to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic, as well as encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance support for people who have attempted or are contemplating suicide.

You also may be interested in...

Back from the Brink: One Marine's Recovery from Suicidal Thoughts

Article
9/29/2021
Portrait photo of John Peck

After suffering a TBI in Iraq and losing all four limbs in Afghanistan, Marine Sgt. John Peck talks about his own experience and the differences in the ways in which individuals deal with traumatic life events.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Suicide Prevention | Talking About Afghanistan

You Are Not Alone - Mental Health Care is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Article
9/21/2021
Soldier with head in hand.

There are many options for support available to those who are having thoughts of suicide and those around them.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Health Resource Center | 24/7 | Suicide Prevention | Talking About Afghanistan

Ask the Doc: I've Got a Friend I'm Worried About – What Should I Do?

Article
9/15/2021
Soldiers conduct a ruck march on airfield.

Doc talks to Dr. Tim Hoyt, chief of Psychological Health Promotion and supervisor of the Combat and Operational Stress Control mission at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, about some of the ways to go about addressing your concerns with a friend you may think is in danger of harming themself.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Health Center of Excellence | Suicide Prevention | Ask The Doc

Suicide Prevention and Connectedness with Others are Intertwined

Article
9/2/2021
The DOD theme for this year’s National Suicide Prevention Month is “Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach,” emphasizing connectedness even during a pandemic.

September is Suicide Prevention Month: Help is Within Reach

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention - Connect to Protect: Help is Within Reach | Suicide Prevention

Countering seasonal depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Article
1/5/2021
Man with his head in his hands, sitting in front of a Christmas tree

SAD, or sometimes called seasonal depression, is a subtype of a major depressive disorder.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Psychological Fitness | Depression | Suicide Prevention

Seeking help from friends and family vital for mental health

Article
12/23/2020
Image of three people on a zoom call

Reaching out for help with your mental health is not a sign of weakness, according to Tim Hoyt.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Suicide Prevention

Real Warriors provides suicide prevention tools for all beneficiaries

Article
9/29/2020
Sunset light creates silhouette of two military personnel

Real Warriors supports the DHA’s Psychological Health Center of Excellence in its mission to break the stigma associated with psychological health concerns.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Psychological Fitness

Army Sgt. Maj. implores others to seek help for suicide ideation

Article
9/28/2020
McGrath in uniform with his family

The support [McGrath] received was opposite from what he thought it would be.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Psychological Fitness

Fort Campbell soldiers shine light on suicide prevention

Article
9/22/2020
Woman wearing a mask, hugging her daughter

Annual walk hosted by BACH offers hope

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention

Suicide impacts us all – but there is help!

Article
9/14/2020
Man at sporting event kissing his wife and baby

September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Warrior Care

PREVENTS aimed at reducing Service Member and Veteran suicide

Article
9/9/2020
Group of airmen hugging each other

In our nation, suicide has increased by 33% over the last 25 years across all demographics.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Warrior Care | Total Force Fitness

inTransition Teams Up with the Veterans Crisis Line to Support Service Members in Crisis

Article
4/10/2020
Image of smiling woman with telephone headset sitting at her desk

In response to an increased volume of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), inTransition is partnering with the VCL to coordinate certain types of care for active duty service members.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Suicide Prevention
Showing results 1 - 12 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.