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The clock began to count down 10-9-8….1 BEEP…. the workout began. I grabbed the barbell, adjusted my grip and began the prescribed movement trying to keep my focus in the […]

The clock began to count down 10-9-8….1 BEEP…. the workout began. I grabbed the barbell, adjusted my grip and began the prescribed movement trying to keep my focus in the present.  Physically, I was performing each move with intention.  Mentally, I was absent.  I was thinking about all the people in my personal and professional life that have attempted or committed suicide.  Thoughts of sadness and anger rushed through my body as I raised the barbell over my head, reliving moments in my past where I had been faced with asking the tough question, “are you thinking of killing yourself?” …and remembering how scared I was to hear the honest answer.

I had to find my way back to the present. I had to focus on what I came here to do.  As the barbell popped out of my hands I closed my eyes, took three deep breaths, and began again.

This time I tried harder to not let my mind drift.  After another 5 reps, I was pulled back to another point in my life where, as a leader, I had missed the suicidal warning signs for a service member in my command. I was taken back to the day I found out the member had attempted to take their own life. I remember feeling crushed because I felt like I had failed my Airmen.

I set the barbell down again. Took three deep breaths and went back to the next exercise in the workout, box jumps.

Every time I landed on the top of the box, the sound of my feet making contact reminded me to stay in the moment.  I told myself, “keep pushing, it is just 22 minutes.”  Just 22 minutes and life for me would move on.  I looked around and felt thankful to be surrounded by such an amazing community of people. My wingmen. Pushing me and encouraging me to finish the workout every step of the way.

For someone that is struggling to find a reason to live, “just” 22 minutes can be the difference between life and death.  Suicide has impacted my life, as I am sure it has for many of you reading this.

September marks the observance of Suicide Prevention Month. On September 22, members of CrossFit Ti decided to dedicate the Workout of the Day to raising awareness on veteran suicide.  For 22 minutes, the clock ticked down and we all pushed hard through the workout – fighting for every last rep, pushing ourselves harder and harder.  Once the clock beeped and we found our breath we huddled together to talk about what suicide prevention meant to each of us.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in America. 22 veterans commit suicide each day. This means that many Airmen over the course of their career will be faced with trying to answer the fundamental questions of why, and what, they could have done to prevent it.

It is imperative that we #bethere for each other and bond together as a family and community.  At the end of the day, you have to be willing to be vulnerable in order to ask the hard questions and to be 100% present mentally (and physically) in order to to help a person in crisis.

Everyone hits a bump in the road and needs a little help from time to time.  As your Wingman, I ask that you fight a little longer and know this: there is a large support center out there and we will be there for you when you need help.

In the end, I’ve found that sometimes it’s simply about paying attention to the little things, asking the hard questions, being present… and not beating yourself up if you miss something. Overall, it is about being there to help a person bounce back.

Contributed By: Major Kristin Boustany
Commander, 115th Security Forces Squadron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOTLINES
DoD BeThere Peer Support Call and Outreach Center: Phone: (844) 357-PEER (7337) Text: (480) 360-6188
Military Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255, Text 838255; Europe (00800-1273-8255 or DSN 118*); Korea (0808-555-118 or DSN 118.)
Veterans Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255, press 1

The Department of Defense’s #BeThere Peer Support Call and Outreach Center provides personalized support for all service members and their families.

Services provided by the call and outreach center provide support to Airmen and their families with any area of life in a convenient, comfortable and confidential manner. The center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for Airmen and their families to contact if they need support in any area of their life by calling (844) 357-PEER (7337) or by text at (480) 360-6188. The BeThere Peer Support Call and Outreach Center is not a crisis line. Airmen or family members needing immediate help should call the Military Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255, and press 1.

WEBSITES
AF – Wingman Online
AFMS – Suicide Prevention
Afterdeployment: Suicide Prevention
Airman’s Guide for Assisting Personnel in Distress
BeThere
BeThere: Suicide Prevention
Defense Suicide Prevention Office
Make the Connection
Military Crisis Line – Suicide Prevention Month Tools
Military OneSource
Real Warriors Campaign
Star Behavioral Health Providers
Supporting Military Families in Crisis: A guide to help you prevent suicide
Veterans Self-Check Quiz
Vets4Warriors