September 4, 2014 --
To the men and women of the Department of Defense:
Preventing military suicide is one of the Department of Defense’s highest priorities, and something I’m personally committed to as secretary of defense.
As we observe Suicide Prevention Month, we must rededicate ourselves to actively working not only every month, but every day to fulfill our collective responsibility to watch out for each other and take care of each other.
Human beings are fragile, and suicide is a complex and devastating event that affects us all.
The painful loss of life and its heartbreaking aftermath spread beyond the individual and immediate family, taking a toll on fellow service members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and society itself. While preventing suicide takes all of us working together, it begins with a personal commitment.
When someone is going through challenges and comes for help, it doesn’t make them weak. It means they’re strong, because asking for help when in need takes courage and strength.
What we need to remember - what our entire country needs to remember - is these brave individuals shouldn’t be avoided or stigmatized. They need to be embraced.
Whether a service member, a veteran, a DoD civilian, or a friend or family member of someone who is, you have the power to make a difference. It only takes one person to ask one question or make one call - and that single act can save a life.
If needing help or know someone who needs someone to talk to, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1; online chat, send a text message to 838255 or visit the website, www.militarycrisisline.net. It’s free, easy, confidential and trained professionals are always available to assist - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The battle to prevent suicide cannot be waged on a single front. It will only be won if we stand together and take every opportunity - in our homes, at our duty stations, and in conversations with friends and mentors - to support each other and be there for those in our communities who need our help. By fighting as one team, we will help prevent suicide.
Thank you and your families for all that you do for our country.