Goodfellow hosts suicide awareness walk

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Goodfellow recognized National Suicide Prevention Month with the annual Suicide Awareness 24-Hour Run/Walk at the Mathis Field Track, here, Oct. 1, 2021.

This year’s theme for Suicide Prevention was Celebration of Life. Approximately 200 Goodfellow members signed up for time slots to carry suicide prevention and awareness batons continually around the track for 24 hours.

September was declared National Suicide Prevention Month in 2008 with the focus of enhancing awareness of issues that affect mental health. It highlights the importance of mental health and encourages individuals to seek help when they need it.

To start the morning, U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Reilman, 17th Training Wing commander addressed members about the importance of reaching to fellow Airman for support and staying connected. He also brought to attention the 580 total-force and 81 active duty Air Force lives lost to suicide in 2020 and the impact suicide has on the force.

“It’s important to come together and recognize the contributing factors of relationship, financial hardships or isolation. We really need to start connecting and growing together as a family to get ahead of those problems,” said Reilman. “These issues have a significant impact on our military family and our readiness.  As long as we can engage and connect we can start to recognize issues that show early on.”

Staff Sgt. Sabrina Scruggs, 315th Training Squadron instructor, spoke about her personal experiences, the importance of recognizing the issue, and what members can do to prevent suicides.

“I’m very passionate about suicide prevention, and it wasn’t until I lost a friend to suicide in 10th grade that my eyes were opened to the importance of staying connected,” said Scruggs. “It can be through holding a conversion or just saying ‘hi’, either way, I always try to make an effort to ask people how they’re doing when I can.”

To kick off the event, Goodfellow leadership came together to start the first lap of the walk at 7:00 a.m.

“Connect with anyone you can, we all go through hard times, the difference is made when we have the strength to reach out,” said Donna Casey, 17th TRW Violence Prevention manager. “It's all about making people feel connected, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the military for one day or 35 years, everyone needs someone to talk to when things get hard.”

Members also wrote encouraging messages with chalk on the physical training pad for others to read at the event.

On the evening of the first day, members gathered to host a remembrance ceremony, where each person held a glow stick signifying a life lost. During this event, Scruggs shared about the friend she lost to suicide, and how important it is to find ways to get members help.

“Today we remember the lives lost to suicide, and we remember how vital it is to recognize the early warnings signs when people are not themselves,” said Scruggs.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is having suicidal thoughts, members are urged to seek help and call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at (325-654-CARE). 

This number also connects you with base resources like chaplains, first sergeants, and Sexual Assault and Prevention personnel. All of which are dedicated to guiding members in their time of need.