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Schriever psychologist takes prevention program reins

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Capt. Jordan Simonson, Schriever Mental Health Clinic psychologist, officially assumed management of the base's suicide prevention program recently.

Though the transition occurred seamlessly, Simonson said taking management of the full program will benefit Team Schriever because it allows the Schriever Mental Health Clinic to tailor a program specifically for the base.

"We'll continue to provide aspects of the program to the base populace as well as add some new facets in the future," Simonson said. "Suicide prevention is an important issue to the Air Force."

The Air Force has undertaken several initiatives to improve resilience, encourage help-seeking, pinpoint self destructive behaviors and involve leadership in suicide prevention.

"Any service member who permanently changes station to Schriever will receive a suicide prevention briefing from us," said Charrity Mattingly, Schriever mental health technician. "We also provide a lengthy prevention briefing at the First Term Airman Center. And we routinely conduct training for unit training managers and front line supervisors."

Mattingly said the suicide prevention program covers 11 initiatives, from leadership involvement to education, training, community awareness and analysis of potential risk factors.

"We try to make the training as interactive as possible," Simonson said.

Mattingly and Simonson often talk about dos and don'ts for people who may encounter a friend, teammate or family member who seems to be in distress.

"When dealing with a person in distress don't offer advice, don't leave the person alone, don't debate or act shocked and don't add your own perspective to the situation," Simonson said. "Instead, listen and empathize. Be honest, caring and express a concern for their safety. Oftentimes, expressing a concern for safety will be your foot-in-the-door approach to getting them help at one of our helping agencies, such as the mental health clinic, the Schriever Airman and Family Readiness Center or the chaplain's office."

Simonson said the Schriever Mental Health Clinic staff will work closely with the base's Community Action Information Board and Integrated Delivery System to make sure the suicide prevention program is implemented on a community level.

"We're excited to take control of the program," Simonson said. "We'll be able to add value and put our own spin on the program. We can adapt to the needs of the base and the people here and hopefully, make it more relevant and personable."

Unit members who would like to schedule a suicide prevention briefing can contact Schriever Mental Health Clinic.

Anyone under distress or seeking to help a friend, family or team member under distress can call the Schriever Mental Health Clinic at 567-4619 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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