Base event takes look at suicide, support

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

A Kirtland Air Force Base event raises awareness on suicide, supports those who have lost loved ones and shares their paths on surviving.

A Suicide Survivors Day event will be Nov. 7 at the base theater.

At the event, people who may not know they need help can be made aware of options to assist them in seeking and receiving care. It’s also to raise awareness in the audience on the signs of suicide ideation and encourage them to pay attention to fellow Airmen.

This is the first year a Suicide Survivors Event will be on an Air Force base. The 58th Special Operations Wing is hosting the event in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The AFSP will host a second Suicide Survivors Day event off base Nov. 19.

Tech. Sgt. Joelle Floria, management analyst with the 58th SOW, is organizing the on-base event.

“This is a great way of showing suicide prevention in a face-to-face format,” Floria said. “People make a choice to get involved. If you hear crying in the bathroom, do you leave or do you stay and sit with them? People put on a happy face when they are in public. It isn’t until they go to turn away that you can often see what is underneath.”

The day is broken into different groups based on rank: Airmen through senior Airmen: 8-9:15 a.m.; staff sergeants and technical sergeants: 9:30-10:45 a.m.; and senior non-commissioned officers and all officers: 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

The event is open to anyone with base access. Attendance at the event will count for annual training on suicide prevention.

“It’s broken down into the rank categories to make it more relevant for those attending the session,” Floria said.

The sessions will follow a similar format with an introduction of Floria and the panel, and then a brief video from other survivors.

A panel discussion and question-and- answer session will follow.

The panel is composed of Floria, Chaplain Capt. David Dziolek, Installation Suicide Prevention Program Manager Capt. Joye Henrie, former 58th SOW vice commander retired Col. Stephen Andreasen and AFSP representative Bee Chavez.

Each has a unique insight into suicide prevention or is a survivor of a loved one’s suicide.

However, Floria is still looking for someone who has attempted suicide and is willing to talk about the experience to sit on the panel.

Floria has been helping people since she was 16. She said that was the first time she encountered someone with thoughts of suicide.

Since then she has helped many people while in the military.

She said a fellow Airman she helped on her first temporary duty assignment to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait told her he hated her because she went to the supervisors to get him help.

Later, however, he told her he was grateful she did. He is in a much better place and happier now that he has received help, she said.

Congress designates the Saturday before Thanksgiving as National Suicide Survivors Day, after Sen. Harry Reid, who is a survivor of his father’s suicide, introduced a resolution in 1999.

For more information or to volunteer for the panel, contact Floria at joelle.floria@us.af.mil.

For a trailer of the video that will show at the event, go to https://youtu.be/Jn0d-TP7KjM.