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Secretary of Defense Message

Message to the Force on Suicide Prevention Month

Sept. 2, 2014
As Written by Secretary of Defense Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

To the men and women of the Department of Defense:

Preventing military suicide is one of DoD’s highest priorities, and something I’m personally committed to as Secretary of Defense.  As we observe Suicide Prevention Month, we must rededicate ourselves to actively working not only every month, but every day to fulfill our collective responsibility to watch out for each other and take care of each other.

Human beings are fragile, and suicide is a complex and devastating event that affects us all.  The painful loss of life and its heartbreaking aftermath spread beyond the individual and immediate family, taking a toll on fellow service members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and society itself.  While preventing suicide takes all of us working together, it begins with a personal commitment.

When someone is going through challenges and comes to you for help, it doesn’t make them weak.  It means they’re strong, because asking for help when you need it takes courage and strength.  What we need to remember – what our entire country needs to remember – is that these brave individuals shouldn’t be avoided or stigmatized.  They need to be embraced.  Whether you’re a service member, a veteran, a DoD civilian, or a friend or family member of someone who is, you have the power to make a difference.  It only takes one person to ask one question or make one call – and that single act can save a life. 

If you need help, if you know someone who is, or even if you just need someone to talk to, contact the Military Crisis Line via phone, online chat, or text message.  Just call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1; visit www.militarycrisisline.net; or text 838255.  It’s free, easy, confidential, and trained professionals are always there for you – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The battle to prevent suicide cannot be waged on a single front.  It will only be won if we stand together and take every opportunity – in our homes, at our duty stations, and in conversations with friends and mentors – to support each other and be there for those in our communities who need our help.  By fighting as one team, we will help prevent suicide.

Thank you, and your families, for all that you do for our country.