There are two particular days in our nation’s history that stand out for having some of the lowest completed suicides on record. Those two days could not be more different. One was filled with celebration and one was filled with fear, disbelief and anger.
February 22, 1980, has the lowest completed suicide rate of any Feb. 22. The U.S. was in the middle of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was about to invade Afghanistan and American hostages were still being held captive in Iran. Yet on that day, The Miracle on Ice brought all Americans together. The U.S. men’s hockey team beat the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the 1980 Olympics. The Soviets looked unbeatable and they had won the previous four Olympic gold medals in men’s hockey. However, the young U.S. team, full of armatures, pulled off the upset. Celebrations spread from coast to coast. Strangers gave high-fives and hugs to each other in the streets and “God Bless America” could be heard in bars everywhere. On that day, Americans felt a sense of belonging and national unity. And that belonging translated into the lowest suicide rate of any Feb. 22.
September 11, 2001, is a day etched in our nation’s history. Everyone who is old enough to remember that day can recall where they were and who they were with. That horrible day was full of anxiety, confusion, anger, fear and horror. In the face of this heinous attack on our homeland and despite all the negative emotions of that day, after the attacks there was a sense of unity – a feeling of belonging and fellowship. It might be the worst day in our nation’s history and yet it holds the single day record for the fewest completed suicides in the U.S. We felt a sense of unity and belonging even in the midst of tragedy.
Every death by suicide is a tragic and painful loss. Having a sense of belonging is one of the strongest defenses that we can build to prevent suicide. We may be celebrating a glorious victory or mourning a tragic event, but either way, we must create a shared sense of belonging. We belong to the greatest organization in the world. Being a Solider in the greatest Army on Earth and being a trooper in America’s Armored Corps means that you belong. Whether you serve in uniform, as a Department of Defense civilian, contractor, retiree, veteran or family member, you have a place to belong at Fort Hood. The more we develop that sense of belonging, the more we will see our suicide prevention efforts bear fruit and save lives.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please reach out for help to one of the following agencies who are available to help you:
CRDAMC Emergency Room: 254-288-8114
Fort Hood On-Call Emergency Duty Chaplain: 254-287-2427 (CHAP)
Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Military One Source 1-800-342-9647