Misawa AB recognized by DoD for Suicide Prevention for the second year in a row

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Every year in September, the Department of Defense focuses on suicide prevention and education during Suicide Prevention Month. As part of this observance, the DoD recognizes installations for their dedicated and influential efforts to build community support for suicide prevention.

Misawa Air Base, Japan was recognized for a second year in a row as the top Air Force installation during Suicide Prevention Month, at a ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, May 15.

“Misawa Air Base’s vision for 2018 Suicide Prevention Month was to go beyond informing the community about suicide prevention by strengthening interpersonal connections,” explained Michelle Aldana, the 35th FW violence prevention integrator.

Several Suicide Prevention Month social activities were hosted on Misawa AB to expand awareness and build connections: two free bowling events that drew 520 young adults and a “Cookies and Canvas” event for 30 at-risk adults and their loved ones that addressed the importance of connections in suicide prevention.

In addition, the suicide prevention team placed 17,145 Misawa Connect conversation cards at different common areas like the Mokuteki Cafe, Walmsley Bowling Center and the Overstreet Memorial Library to encourage in-person, human connection.

Further, Aldana’s team provided suicide prevention training for key spouses, educating the spouse community on suicide warning signs and how to intervene.

In total, the agencies directly exposed more than 800 members to suicide awareness in September 2018.

“Our entire strategy against combating suicide is really about building a community and bringing our Airmen and families together” said Col. Kristopher Struve, 35th Fighter Wing commander.

As 2019 unfolds, Aldana said she plans continuing the momentum.
“My goal for this year is to incorporate more interpersonal communication-building activities within the installation,” Aldana explained. “Misawa AB is set up to where residents live in an isolated, small-town area, where they have an opportunity to be more of a community, meet new people and establish multiple connections.”

In 2018, the following installations were the recipients of the DoD Suicide Prevention Outreach Recognition:
• Army: Fort Carson, Colorado.
• Marine Corps: Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
• Navy: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
• Air Force: 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa AB, Japan
• National Guard Bureau: Indiana National Guard Camp Atterbury

These recipients offered a variety of innovative activities in their multi-component programming for Suicide Prevention Month.

While the DoD is recognizing suicide prevention outreach efforts during September’s Suicide Prevention Month, it is important to #BeThere for yourself and others every single day. Every day connections can make a big difference to someone feeling alone, in need or having thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, there is help. You can call the Military/Veterans Crisis Center at 1-800-273-8255, press 1, or visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ 24/7.