At the National Resilience Institute (now Worldmaker), we dedicate ourselves to collaboratively generating solutions to some of America’s greatest psychosocial challenges.
One issue has threaded itself through our work from our earliest days as a community resiliency project through our growth as a nonprofit human resilience resource for our nation: suicide prevention.
Through rising rates of suicide from our youth, military service members, Veterans, crisis responders, and American farmers, we have sought to better understand the dynamics and call for more open and honest conversations about possible solutions.
In this brief video on the U.S. Air Force website Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright calls out the rising rate of suicide by service members:
“Our teammates are taking their lives. We lose more airmen to suicide than any other single enemy. Even more than combat… We can’t let this keep happening.”Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright
The United States Air Force is taking a stand.
By September 15th, all Air Force Installations were required to participate in a one-day “stand-down” to take a tactical pause towards finding better solutions. Many bases chose to dedicate the Stand Down day to suicide prevention, resilience, and leadership education.
As Sergeant Wright emphasizes, the Stand Down day “is not a one-day effort to check a box. This is a beginning of a much-needed dialogue between airmen, command teams, helping agencies and frankly our entire Air Force. We have to get this thing turned around.”
The National Resilience Institute (now Worldmaker) stands with our military.
In 2019 our Annual Resilience Summit was hosted at Joint Base Andrews. We are grateful to Wounded Warrior Project®, the event signature sponsor, for all they do to build resilience in wounded service members and empower them for their next mission in life.
The Summit was structured as a series of short presentations that shared insights and strategies by thought leaders in the field, including military leaders, Veterans, resilience researchers and service providers. Panel discussions allowed for questions and community discussion.
The three key focus areas were:
- Building Personal Resilience
- Healthy Transitions and Recovery
- Developing Resilient Leaders and Cultures.
The programming was consistent with Sergeant Wright’s call to “make every single airman count every single day.” The path, he says, is building strong and healthy airmen, engaging and supporting teams, growing cultures of trust and respect, and keeping all airmen hopeful – giving them an opportunity to thrive.
Thank you to Sergeant Wright for openly sharing his heartfelt dismay and desire for a better way forward. His words of wisdom are relevant to all leaders, well beyond the U.S. Air Force:
“[S]omeone right now in your organization is struggling. Someone in your organization is suffering from post-traumatic stress or depression. Someone in your organization is feeling hopeless and they may be thinking that suicide is the answer. Give them better options. Let’s lead them to a better answer.”
Leading others to a better answer. This is the work of human resilience builders. This work matters, strengthening and even saving lives. Carry on – every day.