Townhall addresses suicide prevention

Townhall addresses suicide prevention
By Richard Essary
Hilltop Times Staff
May 29, 2014

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Suicide prevention and assisting those who have been impacted by it will be the topics at a Hill AFB suicide prevention town hall luncheon June 9. 

The base is partnering with several community helping agencies for the luncheon, which will be held from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at The Landing. The event will feature guest speakers: Jamie Nagle, the former mayor of Syracuse, Dr. Craig Bryan from the University of Utah, and Dan Clark, who is a motivational speaker. Free lunch will also be provided to those who attend.

Dr. Marc Ybaben, Hill AFB’s Occupational Medicine Services clinical psychologist and the base Suicide Prevention Program Manager, is spearheading the event alongside a number of other base helping agencies. He said the Air Force’s interest in preventing suicide and maintaining a healthy workforce is really what the service’s “four dimensions of wellness” have addressed for years: a balance of the physical, spiritual, emotional, and social areas of our lives.

“Hill Air Force Base is no different,” Ybaben said. “We have a long list of strong helping agencies working together, and we have a similar list of strong leaders on base — military and civilian, from first-line supervisors to commanders and directors — who are asking, ‘What can I do? How can I help?’ and then taking action in their areas.” 

One of the challenges in understanding suicide, Ybaben said, is that it is not simply a base problem nor an Air Force problem. According to the Utah Department of Health, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for Utahns, and Utah ranks 7th highest in the U.S.

The majority of deaths associated with Hill AFB over the past several years have been civilians, not military, making this even more a community problem, needing a community solution, he said.

Ybaben added that the keys to suicide prevention are community-based awareness and establishing a culture that promotes seeking early help and support for those who ask for help.

“Suicide is not the result of a single factor or event,” Ybaben said. “It is usually caused by a complex interaction of many factors, including physical illness, substance abuse, family disturbances, financial problems, interpersonal conflicts, mental illness, and other life stressors which differ for each individual.” 

Hill AFB has been addressing the issue of suicide prevention on a community-wide level by partnering with on- and off-base, resilience-based helping agencies to bring a healthy level of awareness to the topic. Most recently, Hill AFB participated in Ogden and Layton suicide awareness and prevention town hall meetings.

The June town hall luncheon is specifically intended to increase Team Hill’s awareness of on- and off-base helping agencies and to encourage dialogue on this important issue.

Registration is required for the event. A civilian release letter and electronic invitation will be sent to Team Hill. 

For more information, contact Ybaben at 801-777-1155.

Topics: Hilltop Times

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