Rear Admiral John Fuller, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Let’s use this month as a launch pad to promote hope, self-confidence, and resilience. Use it as a way to improve our ohana and teams’ readiness for the remainder of this year and throughout the years to come.
Some believe that people who attempt suicide do so out of a sense of hopelessness and isolation. Even if those are only two of the causes, if we know someone who is experiencing these feelings, we need to recognize the situation and step in and help.
Here’s how: The Navy’s theme this year is “1 Small ACT,” based on the ask-care-treat (ACT) approach to suicide prevention. Ask if they will talk to you. Find ways to restore hope and trust, and—if necessary— make the connection to professional help. Show you care and can be trusted.
It all starts with one small act of kindness. One simple gesture can make a profound difference. One small act can save a life.
While “1 Small ACT” is the Navy’s approach, anyone can adopt it.
Think of a time when you were down and someone took the time to listen. We all know someone who felt isolated and began an “error chain” of bad behaviors, often including alcohol abuse. That chain of mistakes sometimes ends in a link to suicide, but shipmates, friends and families can intervene to help break the chain.
There is strength in asking for help, and there is courage in accepting help—daily “ACTs” that show we care create ripple effects that help navigate life’s storms. Ask, Care, Treat.
Whether it’s taking a moment to appreciate the things we are grateful for, doing a random act of kindness, offering encouragement, or reaching out to someone in distress and getting them help, we should all try to build hope and show we care.
This month, I encourage everyone to get involved in activities designed to promote self-care, team-work and positive relationships. Seek help when needed. Help is available through a variety of resources, including online at http://ow.ly/RLXbL.
Allow me to shift gears for a moment.
As we approach the Labor Day weekend, I am pleased to thank everyone in our region who helped us achieve a relatively safe “100 Days of Summer” since last Memorial Day. But we still have more work to do.
Please don’t let your guard down. Continue making those responsible choices. When shipmates take care of shipmates, and wingmen help wingmen, we achieve greater safety on and off duty.
We can apply the same ohana spirit and decision principles to other challenges we face—preventing sexual assaults, drug abuse and other bad choices. As with suicide prevention, bystander intervention and 1 Small ACT can make a huge positive difference.
Please stay safe and ready. Let’s find ways to enjoy our blessings. After all, we live in Hawaii— Who has it better than us?