Spike in Air Force suicides prompts standdown for 'focus on resiliency'
by Gene Rector
A January spike in suicides prompted Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz to issue a directive to major commands requiring a one-day standdown to “focus on resiliency.”

The Air Force reported fifteen suicides in January among active duty, National Guard, Air Force Reserve and civilian workers.

A memorandum issued by Schwartz and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy reportedly noted that “our airmen are too important to lose in this manner and the cost to individuals, families, friends, co-workers and our mission are beyond measure.”

The 2012 suicide status for Robins Air Force Base was not immediately available. The local installation reported four suicides in 2011, including three active duty and one civilian.

After recording 8 suicides in 2009, Robins officials implemented a “You Matter” campaign that incorporated worker orientation, enhanced input from base support agencies and a broadly scoped “wingman” concept. Suicides fell to three in 2010, two civilian and one active duty.

Robins has completed its standdown day. Base spokesperson Capt. Pam Stauffer said organizations stood down on various days, but each focused on “resiliency and tools to address suicide prevention.”

She said other aspects included the need for special attention for airmen who may be experiencing relationship or other difficulties and the value of small group, face-to-face interaction.

On-base support agencies were also a major focus including Airman and Family Readiness Centers, chaplains, mental health and commanders, first sergeants and supervisors.

Stauffer said airmen were reminded that “seeking help for themselves or for their fellow wingmen is a sign of strength.”

© 2012