Story by Anna Marie G. General
The Military and Family Support Center (MFSC) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam hosted a Joint Services Suicide Prevention Proclamation ceremony and Human Awareness Ribbon Sept. 10 in support of National Suicide Awareness Month.
Service members from every branch of service, Department of Defense personnel as well as military and their families attended the event, which took place at the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange parking lot.
Capt. Jeff Bernard, commander, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, led the proclamation ceremony and provided his opening remarks.
“Suicide affects the lives of our military members, civilian personnel, contractors, families, and the mission of our nation,” Bernard said. “It is the belief for Fight For Each Other (F4EO) that through hosting a series of talks from people directly impacted by suicide, we can save lives, remove stigmas, and encourage help-seeking behaviors.”
Bernard also pointed out that the joint base MFSC suicide prevention awareness team was recently cited by the Secretary of Defense as the leader in U.S. Navy installations for suicide prevention and awareness.
“That means that people that you have the opportunity to talk to about this very important topic know what they are talking about and can help you,” Bernard said. “Use your resources, they are there for you.”
Following Bernard’s opening remarks, retired Air Force Col. Rob Swanson who has been a keynote speaker for the “Fight For Each Other” project shared his personal stories as the guest speaker.
The event also included approximately 400 people filling a human chain in the shape of a yellow suicide awareness ribbon.
“This is our second year forming a human awareness ribbon to take a stand for suicide prevention and show there is a whole community to turn to for help,” said Melanie Beachy, organizer of the event and training instructor for MFSC. “We have been seeking support across the installation, as well as across the island from base to base.”
Volunteers and participants helped to make the event successful and special.
“We thank the outpouring of support of this event. Suicide prevention starts with people connecting and this event showed the true spirit of aloha as the community came together to make this event happen,” said Beachy.
Concluding the events, organizers from MFSC also held a mini-suicide prevention fair that included information and resource booths.
For more information about suicide prevention month, visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/support/be-there.