Three storytellers shared their experiences with overcoming adversity during a Storytellers event hosted by the Kadena Suicide Prevention Team at the McDaniel Center at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 9, 2021.
Storytellers is a forum that allows individuals to be open about something they’ve gone through, or are going through, in a safe environment that is free from judgment, explained Nicole Moss, 18th Wing suicide prevention program manager. Lifelong friendships can happen just from finding out someone went through something similar, and that connection is what Storytellers wants to promote.
“Storytellers events are important because it's good to talk and share, especially during COVID times,” Moss said. “These events can open up a lot of doors and avenues for you to feel better talking about some of these issues that you may have – because somebody else may be going through the same thing.”
As one of several events planned to highlight September as Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, Storytellers focused on stories about mental health instead of its usual emphasis on resiliency.
Regardless of the topic, however, anyone is welcome to share their story, Moss explained.
Stories included topics ranging from being diagnosed with bipolar disorder to processing a friend’s suicide. One storyteller, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Edward Mann, 18th Security Forces Squadron installation security NCO in charge, shared his experience of being abused as a child, and how he found help when thoughts of suicide followed him into his adult life.
“I feel like a lot of people try to get through things by themselves,” Mann said. “They might feel like they're the only ones. Maybe seeing somebody [experience those same challenges] that has lived 20 plus years in the Air Force and has done well for himself, maybe that would help out other people.”
Storytellers is an event that aims to connect people and build interpersonal relationships, as well as bringing awareness to mental health issues.
“I know sometimes it does feel like you're by yourself, but everybody has a story,” Mann said. “You just have to be willing to listen.”
For more information and resources available for Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, please reach out to a Military Family Life Consultant (634-3366), chaplain (634-1288) or the Kadena Mental Health Clinic (DSN 634-3272).