Marine Corps Bases and stations across Okinawa host events for Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

by Lance Cpl. Karis Mattingly
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Marine Corps Community Services Behavioral Health Branch Community Counseling Program on Marine Corps Installation Pacific, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler will be hosting a variety of events throughout the month.

A 5-kilometer run will be held at Gunner's Fitness Center on Camp Foster at 9 a.m. to raise awareness and show support of family and friends who have been affected by suicide.

“The purpose of the run is to raise awareness and prevention about suicide on Okinawa, especially in this time of year,” said Raeven Cox, the administration office manager for the Behavioral Health Branch. “Everyone is impacted by suicide, and it is a hard topic to touch on. We want people to be able to feel comfortable talking about it.”

Additional training, including Pure Praxis Training will be held on all Marine Corps bases. The training will include performances and a variety of scenarios explaining the impact of suicide and ideations of suicide.

“The Pure Praxis is an opportunity for all service members to become aware and comfortable with the subject, said Cox. “The training is going to allow people to ask those hard questions like, ‘How are you doing?’. We do not want people to hide around the idea that suicide doesn't exist because it does. We want to shine a light on it.”

The times and locations for this training are:
Sep. 9 at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Theater from 8-9:15 a.m., the Camp Kinser Theater from 10:30-11:45 a.m., and the Camp Courtney Theater from 2-3:15 p.m.

Sep. 10 the training will be held at the Camp Schwab Theater from 8:30-9:45 a.m. and the Camp Hansen Chapel Two from 1-2:15 p.m. and 3-4:15 p.m.

Sep. 11 the training will be held at the Camp Foster Theater from 8-9:15 a.m., 1-2:15 p.m. and 3-4:15 p.m.

“The outcome we would like to make is for everyone to be a closer family and comfortable talking about suicide,” said Cox.

The suicide awareness events are not just for those who have been personally impacted by suicide, but for those who want to show support for raising awareness.

“Our Marines and sailors are our first line of defense ,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Yonatan Greenberg, the Headquarters and Support Battalion chaplain. "And that is why we need them to be able to recognize, and respond accordingly, to the signs that an at-risk person might be displaying in regards to suicidal behavior.”

For more information go to MCCS Okinawa behavior health, or the Marine and Family Facebook page, or call the behavioral health front desk at 645-2915.

If you recognize warning signs or believe someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or seek help from a mental health care provider. To learn more, visit www.dstressline.com or call 1-877-476-7734.

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