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News | Sept. 22, 2020

Suicide Prevention Resources: Take Care of Yourself and Each Other

Globally, people are facing challenges caused by COVID-19. The pandemic may cause anxiety and stress. These feelings may feel stronger with less social interaction. Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or lonely might increase the risk for suicide for some people. It’s important to tend to your mental health and find ways to cope. There are many resources to help you. These include, but are not limited to, TRICARE mental health services.

Are you or someone you know having thoughts of suicide? Call the Military Crisis Line for free, confidential support 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), option 1. You can also send a text to 838255, or start an online chat. If you think you have a medical health emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room. The hospital department that provides emergency services to patients who need immediate medical attention.

Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide. The Defense Suicide Prevention Office and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help you learn about the risk factors and warning signs. Learning this information may help you determine if a loved one is at risk and needs help.

Some risk factors for suicide may include:

  • Mental disorders
  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation

Some warning signs that may indicate a risk of suicide include: 

  • Talking about suicide or making a plan for suicide
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, or unit
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness
  • Sudden changes in mood or personality
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs

If you feel these warning signs or see them in another person, you should seek help. During the pandemic, you can still reach out for help safely. If you’re a service member, veteran, or family member, you may seek help through your primary care manager, chaplain, Military Family Life Counselors, or Military OneSource. Depending on your needs and military status, you can also find support through the Real Warriors CampaignMake the Connection, and inTransition.

“TRICARE offers mental health care services for beneficiaries coping with excessive depression, grief, and people who might have thoughts of suicide,” said Dr. Krystyna Bienia, a clinical psychologist and senior policy analyst at the Defense Health Agency. “You may even be able to get help through telemedicine services from your own home.”

Getting mental health treatment as well as learning coping skills, may help reduce the risk of suicide. As outlined in the TRICARE Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services Fact Sheet, TRICARE covers many mental health services. These include:

You may need a referral or pre-authorization for some mental health services. However, most office-based outpatient mental health services don’t require you to get a referral or authorization. If you’re an active duty service member, you do need to get a referral for all services.

During Suicide Prevention Month, take actions to help yourself and others who may be feeling stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about suicide prevention resources. If you think you or someone you know should seek mental health services, get help. Take care of yourself and others, and take command of your health.

Lt. Col. Paula Neemann, 15th Healthcare Operations Squadron clinical medicine flight commander, demonstrates several birth options, such as an intrauterine device, at the 15th MDG’s contraceptive clinic at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, May 6, 2021. The contraceptive clinic opened June 7 to service beneficiaries and provide same-day procedures without a referral. (Photo: U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Benjamin Aronson)

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