Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The statistics on veteran suicide are sobering: 20 veterans a day die by suicide and the most vulnerable are in the 18-29 age group. On 11/11/17, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Yale Alumni Association co-sponsored a Mental Health First Aid Course at Yale. The course was provided at no cost to the attendees and was filled within three days of the announcement. Yale ROTC Cadets and Midshipmen filled about half of the seats with the remainder filled by Yale veterans and other interested parties. It was a day of learning and the attendees were united in their appreciation for the course. Foremost among the topics was the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan or “ALGEE.” We learned to:
A – Assess the risk for suicide
L – Listen non-judgementally
G – Give reassurance and information
E – Encourage appropriate professional help and
E - Encourage self-help and other support strategies.
Much like CPR, this training is only intended to help us to do what we can until the professional health care providers are available. We also learned to ask a person directly about their intentions. “Are you thinking about killing yourself?,” is not an easy question to ask a friend, but it could be a life saver. My intention in sharing this is to increase our collective awareness of suicide. Many of our sisters and brothers who served are facing mental health challenges and the VHA is committed to reducing the number of veterans who die by suicide. Yale University has robust mental health services for students and our employees can avail themselves of the confidential Employee Assistance Program. Many times individuals in crisis are not aware of these important services.
The first “E” in ALGEE is to encourage the individual to seek professional help. As friends we might say, “Have you ever thought about talking to someone about your feelings?” The commitment we felt for our fellow service members did not stop when were were discharged. When the program is offered again, you might consider attending. It is a good use of your time. As always, please do not hesitate to call me at 203-432-0879 with your questions and comments on how we might support those who have served. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.