Air Guard’s 'Wingman Project' Offers Hope
By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
National Guard Bureau
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md., Sept. 2, 2010 Citizen-airmen and their loved ones worry about the risks of combat, but they should know that a far greater risk lies in suicide, according to statistics compiled by the Air National Guard.
The Air Guard's suicide prevention, “Wingman Project,” was developed to empower Air Guard members, family and friends to prevent suicides. The website provides easy access to local and national resources, training and social media on suicide prevention. Air National Guard illustration
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In fact, the Air National Guard's suicide-prevention program, called the “Wingman Project,” states that for every one airman killed in combat, seven airmen take their own lives.
Last year the “Wingman Project” was named one of the best suicide prevention programs in the Air Force.
The project’s goal is to train citizen-airmen and their families to recognize the signs of suicide and to get help to those who need it.
"We are trying to use … [the] ‘Wingman Project’ as a way to get the word out and to get those materials out there to the field," said Air Force Col. Doug Slocum, the director of safety at the Air National Guard Readiness Center here.
The program’s website lists the National Suicide Prevention Hotline as well as anti-suicide training and resources available online and within the states and territories. The state hotlines and program links are available on an interactive map.
Slocum said airmen, their families and friends can read articles and watch videos on suicide awareness and intervention. They also can join in on internet blogs and other social media activities.
The website offers tiers of training on how to ask the right questions and how to get help for someone. Follow-on classroom training can certify users in Ask, Care and Escort and in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, which prepare personnel to intervene to stop a suicide.
"Suicide is preventable," Slocum said.