Commentary | Aug. 30, 2021

Reaching out to connect with others can save lives

By Keisha Reynolds, MyCG Writer

A recent Mindvalley article summarizes a poem from famed author, Rumi, that reminds us of our role within human connection. The article states, “You are an individual and part of a collective, breathing life into this world and making a difference with every breath you take.” 

This remembrance of our connection to one another is also the goal of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month throughout September. The campaign theme, "Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach," brings increased awareness to connectedness being a key factor in reducing the likelihood that someone will consider suicide. 

“We hope to move the needle within the Coast Guard community from response to preventive intervention,” explained Cmdr. LaMar Henderson, Suicide Prevention Program manager. “We must connect with others, especially during these times of continued physical distancing, to help others with loneliness and other challenges before they evolve into issues we can’t avoid anymore.”

The Coast Guard’s Suicide Prevention Program will be hosting a series of virtual events and trainings throughout the month to strengthen the network of support for service members, civilians, and their families. Each event will take place on Wednesday during the month of September from 1pm-2pm EDT. The log-in information is as follows: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting or by phone at +1 410-874-6752 Conference ID: 347 594 803#.

Here is list of the events and trainings throughout September:

  • Wednesday, September 1, 2021 – Speakers from offices of Work Life, Medical, Coast Guard Investigative Services (CGIS) and the Chaplains Corps will discuss our multi-disciplinary efforts bolstering prevention and response. 
  • Wednesday, September 8, 2021 – A presentation on Secondary (Vicarious) Trauma for members and related caregivers of those who serve. The discussion will offer resources and strategies to reduce being indirectly impacted. 
  • Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - Mr. Kevin Hines will share a special message of appreciation with the Coast Guard community about his battle with de-pression, suicidal ideation, his rescue by the Coast Guard swimmers, and his journey to healing. 
  • Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - A presentation on how the Coast Guard workforce can be more involved with prevention through evidence-based trainings and intervention. 

Available trainings - In addition to the virtual programs, the Coast Guard’s Suicide Prevention Program is also highlighting the following related trainings:

  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) by Living-Works is a two-day workshop featuring powerful audiovisuals, discussions, and simulations; you'll learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone safe and alive.
  • Safe Talk allows participants to learn and practice powerful, life-saving “suicide alert” skills in just four hours, which is vital for to further strengthen the Enterprise’s network of safety. No matter your background or experience, anyone can learn these lifesaving skills.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help please call 911. CGSUPRT, part of the Coast Guard Employee Assistance Program (EAP), is available to assist active duty members, reservists, civilian employees, and family members with a full range of issues, including financial matters, relationship discord and other stressors. Call 1-855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778) or visit them online at CGSUPRT.com. 

Those interested in becoming a Shipmate Support Peer (SSP) trained in ASIST or those wanting general information about suicide prevention can contact your local EAPC or Cmdr. LaMar Henderson, Suicide Prevention Program Manager or call 202-494-0561). You may also email Christiana Montminy, Employee Assistance Program manager or call 202-475-5156.