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More than just a month: suicide prevention pledge

“I promise to be a link to save a life.  I will not let that person feel alone.  I will be there to remind him or her that it is okay to ask for help.  I will let that person know that the world is a better place with him or her in it.” Team McConnell members read this statement and sign this pledge in support of suicide awareness and prevention. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman Jenna K. Caldwell)

“I promise to be a link to save a life. I will not let that person feel alone. I will be there to remind him or her that it is okay to ask for help. I will let that person know that the world is a better place with him or her in it.” Team McConnell members read this statement and sign this pledge in support of suicide awareness and prevention. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Airman Jenna K. Caldwell)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- "I promise to be a link to save a life.  I will not let that person feel alone.  I will be there to remind him or her that it is okay to ask for help.  I will let that person know that the world is a better place with him or her in it."

Many members of Team McConnell are standing up and signing their name to this pledge in support of suicide awareness and prevention.

The movement began in early November and was developed and coordinated by Ronald Draper, 22nd Air Refueling Wing community support coordinator, and Michlene Tucker, 22nd ARW equal opportunity director.

"The community has been rocked," said Draper. "We need to be proactive about protecting and caring for our people. It all comes down to reflecting on what you're doing. 'What am I doing to make sure that we do not lose another person on McConnell Air Force Base?'"
Though suicide prevention month was in September, there is no reason to limit suicide awareness to just that month. Looking out for fellow Airmen and members of the total force is an integral part of never leaving a wingman behind.

"No one should have to feel like they don't have someone they can go to if they have problems," said Tucker.

It's important to know where and who to go to if individuals need help. There are plenty of agencies on base that can help you if you are feeling down.

There are many available agencies an can utilize: a chaplain, mental health, Military and Family Life Consultants, Airmen & Family Readiness Center, equal opportunity, sexual assault and response coordinators, the primary care manager and chain of command depending on the situation.

"Whether you wear the uniform or not," said Draper "If you are a civilian, a spouse, a son, a daughter; everybody on this base is important."

Draper's and Tucker's strategy is to personally visit each squadron, organization and various events around base to make face to face contact with individuals. They do not want people to just sign a piece of paper or pass around a clip board collecting signatures.

"You know we talk about suicide; we do computer-based training's," said Tucker. "But making personal contact is impactful--you are actually looking someone in the eyes and talking with that person.  No one should have to feel so alone that they feel that this is the only option for them."

The pledge organizers have a personal goal for all of those involved, including helping agencies and other key leaders. The goal is to make contact with 1,500 Team McConnell members by Nov. 26.

"The pledge is part of the answer, but not the solution," said Draper. "At the end of the day, there are people out there who would drop everything and be focused 100 percent on helping you. That's when we will see that there is a light at the end of even the darkest tunnel for all of us."