As part of the year-round commitment to preventing suicide among Marines, families, and the civilian workforce, the Marine Corps observes Suicide Prevention Month each September.
The year-long theme for suicide prevention, Connect to Protect: Support is Within Reach, highlights the importance of connecting fellow Marines and leaders to increase help-seeking behaviors.
How can you Connect to Protect?
Connect with self. It is important to focus on your own good health and wellness.
- Participate in spiritual or community activities and groups.
- Volunteer for causes or organizations that you care about.
- Spend time with friends and family members—whether in person or virtually.
- Seek support from peers, family, or health professionals.
- Reach out to others.
Connect with others. Show your support and #BeThere for your community by strengthening connections.
- Check-in with friends and family. Let them know you care.
- Plan activities you can enjoy together.
- Listen when they want to talk.
- Accept what others have experienced without judgment.
- Resist the temptation to problem-solve.
- Reassure them.
- Express care and concern.
- Encourage them to get help and stay in touch with friends and family.
- Know your military and community resources.
Take steps year-round to “Connect to Protect” with Marines and Families. Join your units or installations by participating in suicide prevention activities and programs.
If you are concerned someone is in crisis and you think it’s an emergency, don’t delay in responding. Call the duty (if the Marine lives in the barracks) or report the post immediately to your chain of command. If you believe the person is suicidal, call 911 or 988.
If the situation is concerning but not an emergency, give the person options to talk to someone on the phone, online, or in person:
- Military Crisis Line: 988 and Press 1
- Military One Source: 800-342-9647
- Community Counseling Center
A positive command climate encourages Marines to support and check in with each other regularly. Sometimes individuals just need a listening ear with no judgment. Dr. Brené Brown talks about empathy in this video: Brené Brown on Empathy vs Sympathy.
Marines and families can connect with others by using an approach called OARS, which stands for: Open Questions, Affirming, Reflective Listening, and Summarizing.
- Open-ended questions guide the conversation and limit yes/no answers. Open-ended questions show curiosity, genuine interest, and demonstrate active listening. Example: “How would you like things to be different?”
- Affirmations focus on a particular goal, value, effort, or strength of the individual. Affirmations demonstrate support. Example: “You handled yourself really well in that situation.”
- Reflective listening involves weighing the words the other person uses and the feelings expressed. Example: “It sounds like you feel worthless in this situation.” If the reflection is off the mark, the other person can correct the misunderstanding.
- Summarizing ensures the listener understood what the individual meant and allows for clarification if needed. Examples: “Let me see if I understand so far,” or “Here is what I have heard. Tell me if I’ve missed anything.”
Marines and families can seek mental health help from a variety of Marine Corps Community Services resources: Services - Marine Corps Community (usmc-mccs.org).
Individuals who want to become trained in mental health first aid can find free courses or talk to their leadership about joining the unit’s Operational Stress Control and Readiness (OSCAR) Team.