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From the Top: Suicide prevention ... be a lifesaver!

Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve Command commander and chief of Air Force Reserve.

Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve Command commander and chief of Air Force Reserve.

Citizen Airman/Oct. 2010 -- When we deploy to and from hostile fire zones and are under the constant threat of combat conditions, as Airmen, we are well-trained and prepared for the worst to react in emergency situations. But, how many of us are really prepared to help a fellow Citizen Airman who may be having suicidal thoughts? While we have implemented some solid suicide awareness programs, and there has been a downturn in the number of suicides in our command, there is still much work to be done. We can never get complacent or have a cavalier attitude toward suicide prevention. We can't afford to simply "check the box" about training or dismiss the take-aways the minute we walk out of the briefing room or log off our computer-based training session. As recently as September, we had another suicide in our Air Force Reserve family. It's heart-breaking to me that one of our Airmen felt there was nowhere else to turn and that suicide was the only way out. I can't impress upon you enough how important it is in our daily lives to take the time to ask the simple question, "Do you need help?" We may never fully know in the course of a day how many lives we touch. If you saw someone drowning in a swimming pool, wouldn't you throw a life ring to help or even jump in yourself and pull the person to safety? Suicide prevention is no different. Hopefully you received the recent e-mail note I sent out about all the resources that are available to everyone in our Reserve family. In addition, please take the time to read the article on Page 16 for more information about the suicide awareness and prevention programs that could help save lives today. Each and every Citizen Airman is as important as the person standing next to them shoulder to shoulder. Never forget that.