Thursday, May 20, 2010

Air Force Suicide Prevention Worked

Suicides are down and the intervention program worked. That's the conclusion of a research study just released by the University of Rochester Medical Center and published in the American Journal of Public Health. The program being proclaimed successful dropped the suicide rate by over 20%. The suicide prevention program with the U.S. Air Force began in 1994, but suicide rates were examined from the period 1981 - 2008.

Lessons from the study. To decrease the rate of suicide, the U.S. Air Force concentrated on four key components: 1) Encouraging members of the Air Force to seek help; 2) Promoting the development of coping skills; 3) Fighting the stigma associated with receiving mental health care; and 4) stressing the absence of negative career consequences for seeking and receiving treatment. The Air Force Suicide Prevention Program is included in all military training. Supervisor training is a key component of the program  with leadership getting instruction in how and when to refer subordinate personnel to help. If any traumatic events, especially those related terrorism occur, they are responded to rapidly to address acute and posttraumatic stress, a known major contributing factor to the risk of suicide risk. The number of suicides prior to the study going back to 1994 were 64 in that year. The program low during the implementation period of the program was 1999 with a total of 20 suicides. (Note: There has been no reduction in the suicide rate among the general U.S. civilian population since the 1940s according to the study.)

Blog Note: Currently the U.S. Army is undergoing service wide training in an effort to reduce the suicide rate among its ranks.

Suicide prevention education module in PowerPoint, PowerPoint with sound, Flash video, and DVD, with script notes for the PowerPoint formats can be found at, Suicide Prevention Training. (Used by many federal government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, the U.S. Senate, and smaller businesses.)