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Misawa Airmen raise suicide prevention awareness

Rock painting for hope

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Gathers, a 35th Surgical Operations Squadron radiology technician, paints a rock during the suicide prevention awareness ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 14, 2018. As part of suicide prevention month, Misawa personnel painted rocks with messages of hope for people in need of inspiring words. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

This color is nice

Families paint rocks during the suicide prevention awareness ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 14, 2018. As part of suicide prevention month, personnel painted rocks with messages of hope for people in need of encouraging words. The rocks were placed throughout the base for Team Misawa members to discover. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

My hope rock for you

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman William Gathers, a 35th Surgical Operations Squadron radiology technician, shows off his painted rock during the suicide prevention awareness ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 14, 2018. As part of suicide prevention month, personnel painted rocks with messages of hope for people in need of encouraging words and placed them throughout the base for Team Misawa members to discover. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

Words of wisdom

U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Kirmis, the 35th Fighter Wing vice commander, offers words of encouragement during the suicide prevention awareness ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 14, 2018. Throughout September, the base is offering events like rock painting and free bowling to raise suicide prevention awareness and promote togetherness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Xiomara M. Martinez)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Team Misawa members attended a suicide prevention awareness recognition ceremony to show support for community members with thoughts of suicide, Sept. 14.

Yearly, more than 40,000 people in the United States lose their lives to suicide. Due to this statistic, the month of September is taken to build attention and understanding of suicidal ideation signs.

For suicide prevention month, Misawa AB hosted a variety of events, starting with the opening ceremony. This is the first time an initial event occurred.

The campaign continued throughout the next weeks with events including painting messages of hope on rocks and free bowling.

“[Teaching] suicide prevention helps people better understand factors leading to suicide,” said Capt. Mary Zander, the Misawa AB suicide prevention program manager. “It allows people an opportunity to make a commitment to prevent suicide. It also helps to heal those who have lost someone to suicide.”

Staff Sgt. Elaina Pea, the 35th Surgical Operations Squadron NCO in charge of computed tomography, said that to host an event so special felt amazing. She continued by stating she came out and felt humbled by who showed support for others and the community.

“Building connections and taking the opportunity to let people know they’re cared for doesn’t take much effort,” Zander said.

The event was a reminder for people to remember that in times of need, there’s always a helping hand.

“We want people to know that it’s okay to not to be okay,” expressed Zander. “Remind your loved ones that they’re enough regardless of what is going on in their life. There are people out there who support them and are available.”

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the military crisis line and speak to a counselor by dialing 1-800-273-TALK and press one.