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We Can Combat Suicide as a Community

Amanda Burke

Amanda currently serves as the Region III Administrator. She attended Sonoma State University and graduated with a degree in Political Science. She grew up as an Air Force brat and shocked her parents by joining the Marine Corps. After serving four years as a signals intelligence officer, Amanda dabbled in supply chain management and government consulting.

Every day we lose our friends, loved ones, neighbors, and other influential people in our lives to suicide. According to the CDC, an average of 105 Americans lost their lives to suicide each day in 2010. Twenty-two of those were veterans. So what do these numbers tell me?

Suicide is not just a veteran problem, it’s a community problem.

A community is made up of citizens who care about their neighbors and find ways to keep them safe. If you saw a stranger lurking around a neighbor’s house late at night, you’re going to report it to local authorities. If you saw a friend leave the bar after one too many with car keys in hand, you’d take their keys and identify a safe way home.

We take care of our fellow friends, citizens, and neighbors in so many different ways. So what can we do as a community to find a solution to the suicide problem we currently face?

Awareness: Research. Take a look around you. Become keenly aware that suicide can happen to anyone. Your brothers, sisters, parents, children, neighbors, co-workers, and friends can all be at risk of suicide at some point in their lives.

Education: Once you’re aware that suicide can happen to anyone, learn how you can help prevent it and what resources are available in your community that might be able to help someone recover. At Team Rubicon, we work with Give An Hour, a nonprofit providing free mental health services for military veterans and personnel.

Training: Enroll in training to help you become more confident and capable of identifying and helping someone who might be considering suicide as an option. Suicide intervention training might help you prevent one more person from making the decision to take their life. More than 140 TR members are ASIST-trained caregivers (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), and our team will continue to offer the two-day course across the country.

I accept the fact we won’t be able to save everyone from making the decision to take their own life, but I’m hopeful we – a community of veterans, first responders, and civilians – can fight against suicide by ensuring our communities are aware, educated, and trained. Together, as a community, we can help solve this problem.

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  • Polter Geist

    140 students nationally to a 22,000 TR volunteer force? How is that low # supposed to make an impact when only regional staff get offered the training, but not the main volunteer base?
    Never heard of this until accidentally seeing it in a TR comment on Facebook. Been with TR for 2 years and didn’t hear about it from TR; there’s gotta be better communication within the organization to members.

    • Gotta start somewhere. This post was written back in October and we’ve since provided ASIST to hundreds more members. This course is available for all volunteers, not just regional leaders. Chances are, if the course wasn’t offered in a city near you, you may not have received communication. We’re working to expand our reach, so hopefully you can join an opportunity in 2015.

      • Polter Geist

        The problem is communication from TR in general, whether it’s knowing that training is being offered in the first place, let alone eligibility to apply for it. Region’s are not boosting out information to TR volunteers equitably, where Region 9 is obviously reaching out to their rostered personnel, other Regions are not.