September is National Suicide Prevention Month - a month for reminding our fellow Airmen that they really do matter.
If you were to stop by the chaplain's office in building 10, room 227, on base, you would immediately notice a profound piece of artwork on the south wall, "Footprints in the Sand," with a caption that reads, "The purpose of life is a life of purpose," by Robert Byrne. In other words, there is a reason you were created, and a reason for your life to exist.
In the Holy Scriptures, Matthew 22:37-39 reads, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. "Love your neighbor as yourself." These undeniably define our purpose in life. It is in our development of desire to know and experience God that gives us a life of purpose.
In case you are wondering what this looks like in action... to love God is to know God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God (1 John 4:4-10). To love your neighbor is to care for your Wingman. We care for our Wingmen when we respond to their behavior changes, mood swings, anxiety, withdrawal, anger, feelings of hopelessness or if they should talk about dying or suicide.
Your life has purpose - to God and your Wingman. For every negative thought, like the possibility of committing suicide, God provides countermeasures - thoughts of a loving spouse, children, productive hobbies, a good paying job, abilities of capacity, loving relatives, loving friends and colleagues, and so much more. And the love toward a Wingman can be willfully expressed by selflessness and humility - by being there in time of need.
Preventive measures may include reminding your Wingman that God has declared in Scripture, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The Defense Department has many suicide prevention programs, but there is one specifically designed for Air Guard members. Visit Readyairman.org
for extensive resilience resources, or download the Ready Airman application on your mobile device so those resources are always at your fingertips.
One suicide is too many. Let's put an end to this type of temptation. Call a friend for help or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.