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NEWS | Aug. 30, 2017

Community walks to raise suicide prevention awareness

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Each year, more than 44,000 Americans die by suicide. Of those Americans, U.S. military veterans account for 18 percent of all adult suicides.

To help raise awareness and prevent such tragedies, Sept. 10 is designated as World Suicide Prevention Day, and within the U.S., Sept. 10-16 is National Suicide Awareness Week. Both observances aim to communicate the risk factors and provide support for those affected by suicide.

For Wade Palmore, 1st Air Force liaison to Air Combat Command, suicide prevention and awareness education hits home. Having lost his brother Bobby in 2010, Palmore has participated in awareness events every year since his brother’s death, hoping to educate others on the signs to help prevent the same tragedy in others’ lives.

“Bobby was a wonderful soul, but troubled with burdens of alcoholism and drug abuse,” said Palmore. “It is unclear as to whether the disease of depression was a result or cause of his addictions, but I do know that he seemed to need more than I and the mental health system provided at the time. This is why awareness, by all, is the key to fighting depression and suicide.”

To help promote suicide awareness, members of the Hampton Roads community come together annually for various suicide prevention events.

The Hampton Roads Morning of Hope walk and the Out of the Darkness Walks aim to promote mental health support among civilian and military communities both locally and nationwide. These events include counselors and information tables, as well as crane curtains as a symbol of healing, happiness and hope.

The Hampton Roads Morning of Hope walk will be hosted at Mount Trashmore Park, Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Sept. 9. The Out of the Darkness Walks will be hosted in various locations in Hampton Roads on Sept. 16 and 30, as well as Oct. 14 and 15.

According to the Veterans Crisis Line, many individuals with depression or contemplating suicide deal with feelings of being alone. A simple gesture from a coworker or friend could possibly make a difference, and be the first step in helping them toward healing.

Understanding the possible signs or actions can help prevent suicide in the workplace and in the community. Some people who plan to harm themselves may not show any signs; however, there are some behaviors that may appear when someone needs help:

  • Appearing sad or depressed most of the time

  • Clinical depression: deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating; and it doesn’t go away or continues to get worse

  • Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep

  • Neglecting personal welfare; deteriorating physical appearance

  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society, or sleeping all the time

  • Losing interest in hobbies, work, school or other things one used to care about

  • Frequent and dramatic mood changes

  • Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame

  • Feelings of failure or decreased performance

  • Feeling that life is not worth living, or having no sense of purpose in life

  • Talk about feeling trapped—like there is no way out of a situation

  • Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems

    Their behavior may be dramatically different from their normal behavior, or they may appear to be actively contemplating or preparing for a suicidal act through actions such as:

  • Performing poorly at work or school

  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking

  • Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights or self-destructive violence; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge

  • Looking as though one has a “death wish” – tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends and/or making out a will

  • Seeking access to firearms, pills or other means of harming oneself


    For more information or to participate in any of the upcoming awareness and prevention events across Hampton Roads, visit or

    Anyone thinking about suicide or worried about a family member, friend or coworker should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, or send a text message to 838255. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.