JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Members of Joint Base Langley-Eustis conducted a “No Suicide on my Watch” fitness challenge to promote suicide awareness on Oct. 14 at various locations around the Fort Eustis installation.
Organizers of the event aimed to foster an environment of trust and camaraderie through a variety of team-building exercises.
“We wanted to bring awareness of suicide to the force,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Adrian Johnson, deputy installation director for psychological health Department of Behavioral Health, McDonald Army Health Center. “The whole idea is to bring individuals together for a like-cause to hopefully facilitate relationship-building. If I’m ever in a stressful situation, I can trust you. You’re someone I can reach out to because I can see that you’re someone I can collaborate with. That’s what it’s all about—establishing a culture of trust.”
The fitness challenge featured five stations with different events: leg tuck, tire flip, deadlift, a written test and a four-mile ruck.
“The point of it was to incorporate exercise, which we know helps improve mood,” Johnson said. “This event was meant to build teams that would come together and learn about the risk factors and warning signs associated with suicide.”
Suicide awareness and prevention is a complex topic, and every case is unique to the parties involved. However, experts agree on a number of recurring stressors which may influence people to inflict harm upon themselves: Occupational stressors, legal trouble, financial hardship, medical problems, leadership issues, loneliness, depression, childhood trauma and much more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide remains one of the top causes of death among Americans. The CDC also pointed out veterans and military members as bearing a disproportionately higher risk of committing suicide.
Johnson hoped that the fitness challenge, along with the myriad of services and resources available to the community, would encourage Soldiers struggling with difficult situations to get the help they need.
Members of the JBLE community can reach out to their military treatment facility, chaplain or Military Family Life Counselor if they ever feel the need to talk to someone about their situation.
“We also have the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255,” Johnson added. “I just want to put this information out there in case anyone feels like they are in a dark place. Please reach out and dial this number. One suicide is one too many, life is precious. We’re here for you—you’re not in it alone.”