Active Duty Military member uses app to support friend

A story shared by an Active Duty military member that used

As the Sergeant met with an individual of a lower rank, red flags within his dialogue began to worry him. This individual expressed depressive thoughts and the sergeant knew it was time to take action, so he pulled out the app and began to go through the questions. Fortunately, after the assessment was over, a conclusion was made that the individual was not at risk of suicide. However, the report did highlight various at risk factors, that correlated with his depressive mental state. The Sergeant’s inquiry required the individual to elaborate on the issues specified by the app. This in depth assessment led to the revelation that he had in fact, questioned his existence at times.

After identifying the problems, they then found specific programs in the nearby area that would offer the necessary help. The Sergeant shares, “In my opinion, what made this young man more “accepting”, if you want to call it that, of the process was that I told him the assessment was anonymous and that the results would not be put into any personnel records. I will say that the military has taken a major shift in addressing suicide in recent years, but the average active duty individual still has an ingrained stigma that expressing the need for help, or having these “feelings” could ruin their career”. This exact stigma is what this app along with various suicide prevention programs try to eliminate. With the help of the app, it enabled the Sergeant to execute the individual’s distinct problems with a systematic process. What he particularly liked, is he was able to integrate his own compassion and empathy, while eliminating the “robot” like repetition of reading question after question. The sergeant accentuates the importance of the apps anonymity. Because of it, the flow of the process was smooth and allowed the individual to be more direct and honest.

The individual then informed the sergeant that he had told his family about the app. As a result of their interaction, the individual has been able to express his feelings openly, and has brought up unresolved issues from the past. The Sergeants ends with, “I just thought I would share this with you and say I think this tool may have some great use here in the Military”.

We cannot deny our feelings and thoughts, for that only dismantles us even more. We need to acknowledge that there is always a way to receive help, and that it’s OKAY to need help. As much as we all take pride in our self-sufficiency and the image we create for ourselves, we have to face the inevitability that we can’t do everything on our own. Do not fuel the stigmatization that corresponds with suicide and depression. We cannot view it as a dead end, show those in need that there is a way to overcome even the hardest obstacles we afflict upon ourselves. Most importantly, needing help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of empowerment, so empower others, help others.

You are not alone. Don’t be fooled, for even those that we identify as the most brave and courageous people, still struggle with suicidal thoughts.