Ask a Shirt: Suicide Prevention

  • Published
  • 944th Fighter Wing

Reserve Citizen Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Maiorano is the 944th Fighter Wing First Sergeant. We asked him for some tips on the importance of Suicide Prevention and what members can do if they need help. Read ahead to refresh your memory on your options for self-help and for ways to assist your wingman.

Why is Suicide Prevention Awareness important?
• Suicide can be preventable
• The impacts suicide has on the people left behind are devastating to include heartbreak and guilt (“missing the signs” or “not doing enough” or “I should have said something”)
• The effects of suicide impact individuals, families, and communities. It can affect the mission, or worse trigger more suicides.
• Some folks don’t know how to address the situation. i.e how to talk with someone with suicidal ideations, what resources are out there, or may think “is this my place”
• Suicide is now considered a public health issue

What are triggers that members could be facing today?
Individuals process different events differently. Some possible triggers are:
• COVID-19
      o Isolation “social distancing” as opposed to “physical distancing”
      o Loved ones dying
      o Feeling overwhelmed due to struggles with work like increased work load, teleworking, and losing a job or business
• Finances
• Relationship issues
• Deployment Tempo
• Death of a loved one

What should member do if they need help?
• Ideally, the best thing is for members to seek help (this doesn’t always occur though. Some folks think that what they are going through isn’t as bad as what someone else has experienced so they hesitate to seek professional help)
• If it’s a crisis, call 911 or go to an emergency room
• Know your resources, then utilize those resources
• Identify a person or group of people that will be honest and have your best interests in mind. In other words, develop a network before you get to that point

What are some resources members could use?
• There are many resources out there, but I will list a few. More resources can be found by going to and clicking on the license plate “You Matter” under the resource link.
• 911
• Emergency rooms
• Military OneSource: 800-342-9647
• 944 Director of Psychological Health (DPH): 623-745-6587
• Chaplain: 623-856-5303
• First Sergeants
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
• Veterans/Military Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, Press 1

Are there any resources available to the immediate family of servicemembers?
• Military OneSource: 800-342-9647
• DPH: 623-745-6587
• Veterans/Military Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, Press 1
• 911

What if a co-worker notices that a wingman may be in crisis?
• One of the most common I’ve heard is ACE
• A- Ask the tough questions. “Are you thinking about hurting yourself or others” “Do you have a means and a plan”
• C- Care for your Wingman. Be sincere and know your Wingman
• E- Escort your Wingman to a source of professional help. Do not leave your Wingman alone if you feel they are having suicidal ideations.

How are you available to members of the wing?
• This is a 24/7/365 job. Please call me. Doesn’t matter if I am first on your list, or last on your list. Doesn’t matter what time of day. Someone will always answer the Shirt Phone (or call you back shortly) even if I’m out of pocket. Texts work as well.
• Wing First Sergeant Cell: 602-316-4560

If suicide is preventable, what can be done to prevent it?
• The best medicine is prevention. There are several steps to take to prevent you or a Wingman from suicidal ideations
• Research, develop, and practice coping mechanisms.
• We need to develop our Comprehensive Airmen Fitness which includes our mental, physical, social, and spiritual pillars
• It’s been said that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
• Studies show that people that die by suicide have lost all hope. We have to learn to embrace life’s challenges and in turn hope abounds.
• Get to know your Wingman. Look them in the eyes. Interact with them. Mourn when they mourn and rejoice when they rejoice. We will become a much stronger force when we are equipped with the tools to combat suicide.