September is Suicide Prevention Month and it's important that we are there for each other and take steps to prevent suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's theme for the month is to #KeepGoing, by taking simple actions to safeguard our mental health and save lives. From learning the warning signs for suicide and what to do if you are worried someone is struggling, to bringing education programs to your community, we can all learn new ways to help each other save lives.
One action I'm taking is to urge my public officials to prioritize suicide prevention and mental health. When someone is in acute crisis, it's hard for them to think clearly, and even reaching out for help can be a struggle. For this reason, it is vital that Congress pass the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (H.R.4194/S.2661) to make a three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline a reality. This legislation will provide the funding and resources needed by crisis centers across the country that support those struggling with their mental health and thoughts of suicide.
As an Air Force veteran I have lost more friends to suicide than I can count. Many of them I would never have known were internally suffering as they appeared “fine” on the outside. That's the scary thing about suicide — you never know who is feeling the pain and anguish of it. There's a stereotype in the military that echos all around: asking for help is considered a weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Seeking help requires a massive amount of vulnerability and courageousness. Mental health in America needs to be reformed, and it starts by educating ourselves and advocating to be the change for people in need.
In this time of uncertainty, we all need to find new ways to connect and support each other.
Together, we #KeepGoing.