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How to Get Help

Confidential help is available 24/7 through the Veterans Crisis Line. 

Seeking help is a sign of strength.

If you, your shipmate, or a loved one are having trouble navigating stress or experiencing a crisis, help is always available. Seeking help is a sign of strength and a sign of the good judgment and reliability needed to thrive in your Navy career. You can reach out to your local Fleet and Family Support Center, Deployed Resilience Counselor, civilian or military mental health provider, or any of the following free and confidential resources:   

  • 988 SUICIDE & CRISIS LIFELINE: Connects active duty service members and veterans in crisis with qualified and caring Dept. of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential, toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Support is available via telephone, mobile text or online.
    • Call 988 then Press 1
    • Text 838255
  • MILITARY ONESOURCE: Military OneSource offers free and confidential non-medical counseling via phone and live chat, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also offer specialty consultations, with services including peer-to-peer support, wounded warrior support, health and wellness coaching, transition assistance and more. Call 800-342-9647 (CONUS). For OCONUS calling options, click here.
  • NAVY CHAPLAIN CARE: Sometimes Sailors and their families would prefer to trust and confide in a Navy Chaplain to receive guidance or help seeing things more clearly. Chaplains are available to talk 24/7. Communications with Navy Chaplains are 100% confidential unless the service member decides otherwise. For more information, view the following resources:
  • REAL WARRIORS LIVE CHAT: Click the link to start a live chat with a trained health resource consultant, ready to talk, listen and provide the guidance and resources you're looking for.

Risk Factors
Anyone can be at risk for suicide. 
Risk factors for suicide are complex but consist of a chain of events leading an individual to feel anguish and hopelessness, with the capacity to be lethal (due in part to impacted judgment and access to means). Risk factors indicate that someone would be more vulnerable to suicide but may not indicate immediate risk (warning signs). 
Risk factors identified by annual Navy Cross Disciplinary Case Reviews and the Centers for Disease Control1 include: 

  • Easy access to lethal means (methods of suicide with especially high fatality rates) 
  • Relationship issues (divorce, separation, break-up) 
  • Transitions (retirement, PCS, discharge, etc.) 
  • Current or pending disciplinary or legal action 
  • ​Financial problems 
  • Academic, career or personal setbacks 
  • Perceived rejection, abandonment or loss of status 
  • Physical or psychological health issues (sleep deprivation, medical condition, etc.) 
  • Severe or prolonged stress 
  • ​History of alcohol and/or substance abuse 
  • History of previous suicide attempts 
  • Barriers to accessing psychological health treatment 
  • Family history of suicide or violence 
  • Sexual or physical abuse 
  • Traumatic experience 
  • ​Death of a close friend or family member 

1. Centers for Disease Control. Suicide: Risk and Protective Factors (2015, August 28). Retrieved from

Protective Factors

Protective Factors are resources and aspects of our lives that promote healthy stress navigation and build resilience. They can be personal, external or environmental. During times of extreme stress or crises, protective factors can counterbalance risks for self-harm. Strengthening protective factors is an ongoing process that takes all hands. 
Protective Factors against suicide include:​ 

  • Sense of community and belonging 
  • Strong connections with family and friends 
  • ​Comprehensive wellness including quality sleep, proper nutrition and physical activity/exercise 
  • The desire to "take care" of one's health 
  • Sense of self-worth 
  • Sense of purpose 
  • Personal fulfillment 
  • ​Contribution or responsibility to others 
  • Access to mental and physical health care 
  • Finding positive meaning in one's life 
  • Optimism 
  • Beliefs that support self-preservation 
  • ​Problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution skills 
  • Sobriety 
  • Safe storage of lethal means  

Lethal Means Safety 
During times of increased stress, the risk of suicide is simultaneously heightened. Lethal means safety is the process of ensuring that highly lethal means of suicide are not as easily accessible during these times. Practicing lethal means safety has been proven as an effective way to prevent suicide. Some lethal means include but are not limited to firearms, certain prescription medications and structural hazards. 

  • Firearms are the most common method of suicide both in the U.S. and in the military. They accounted for approximately 50% of all suicide deaths in the U.S. and approximately 60% of all suicide deaths in the military in 2018. 
  • ​Research shows that when a weapon is less accessible during high-risk periods, the likelihood of an immediate suicide attempt decreases. 
  • During times of increased stress, storing personally owned firearms with a gun lock in a secured safe separate from ammunition can decrease suicide risk. 
  • Gun locks may be available at your installation. Your command Suicide Prevention Coordinator (SPC) may have additional information. 

Prescription Drugs

  • According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, nearly one third of suicide attempts among veterans involve prescription medication. In the Navy, prescription drug urinalysis positives have increased 20% from fiscal years 2013 to 2016, meaning that they are more readily available. 
  • ​At-home disposal of prescription drugs is an easy way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs. 
  • To dispose at home, empty medications into a small plastic bag mixed with water and an undesirable substance (such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds) and throw the bag in the trash. Cross out all personal information from the prescription labels before discarding the bottle. Learn more from Navy Drug Detection and Deterrence's (DDD's) Too Much to Lose campaign​. 
  • Drop box disposal is another safe and secure way to dispose of prescription drugs. Some military treatment facilities (MTFs) have drop boxes, including: 
  • ​Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital 
  • Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune 
  • ​Naval Health Clinic Charleston 
  • Naval Hospital Jacksonville 
  • Naval Medical Center San Diego 

Structural and Environmental Hazards 

  • Suicide barriers are an increasingly common means of preventing jumping deaths from bridges and other tall structures. Some common deterrent options include mesh fences, glass panels, spikes, and steel nets.
  • ​In some Navy barracks, break-away shower curtain rods are used as a suicide prevention means. The rod's flanges are designed to release the shower curtain rod when excessive weight is applied. 
  • For an individual who is actively suicidal, removing or altering environmental hazards in the home can help deter suicide. This may include putting knives, razor blades or other sharp objects out of reach; removing long cords, ropes, or shoestrings; and/or limiting access to fixtures that may be used to assist in strangulation or hanging. 

Reducing access to lethal means saves lives. See below for resources encouraging Sailors to practice lethal means safety. See below for resources encouraging Sailors to practice lethal means safety.​ 

Warning Signs
IS PATH WARM is an acronym created by the American Association of Suicidology to help the public remember the immediate warning signs of suicide: 

If you notice a combination of any of these signs, even if they're subtle changes, here's what you can do: 

Ask - Ask your shipmate directly "are you thinking about killing​ yourself?  Do you have a plan to kill yourself?" 
Care - Tell your shipmate that you're concerned about him or her, without judgment.  They may not show it, but they likely appreciate that someone cared enough to say something. 
Treat - Take your shipmate to get help immediately by seeking a Navy chaplain, medical professional or trusted leader.  Stay with your shipmate until they are directly connected with immediate care.  Call 911 if danger is imminent.  Help is available 24/7 through the

Offer to help your shipmate, store their personally owned firearms outside the home until they are no longer experiencing these suicide warning signs.  Putting time and space between an overwhelmed individual and a loaded weapon dramatically decreases the likelihood that they will die by suicide. 
Remember, one small ACT can save a life. 

Spread the word: 

​Spread the Truth: Psychological Health Treatment and SF86 Question 21

Download this infographic to share with your shipmates so they know what does NOT need to be reported when answering question 21 on the SF86.

  Veterans Crisis Line - Dial 988  Safe Helpline  NCIS Tips  Sexual Assault Prevention & Response  NFAAS

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