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Arlington, Va. (AFNS) —

Every year in September, the Department of Defense focuses on suicide prevention and education during Suicide Prevention Month. As part of this observance, the DoD recognizes installations for their dedicated and influential efforts to build community support for suicide prevention.

Misawa Air Base, Japan was recognized for a second year in a row as the top Air Force installation during Suicide Prevention Month, at a ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, May 15.

Misawa AB’s Suicide Prevention Month program focused not only on educating the community about suicide prevention, but also on strengthening interpersonal connections.

“Our entire strategy against combating suicide is really about building a community,” said Col. Kristopher Struve, 35th Fighter Wing commander.

Several Suicide Prevention Month social activities were hosted on Misawa AB to expand awareness and build connections: two free bowling events that drew 520 young adults and a “Cookies and Canvas” event for 30 at-risk adults and their loved ones that addressed the importance of connections in suicide prevention.

Ms. Michelle Aldana, 35th Force Support Squadron member emphasized that the program wanted to reach as many people across the installation as possible. Aldana’s team provided suicide prevention training for key spouses, educated the spouse community on suicide warning signs and how to intervene.

In 2018, the following installations were the recipients of the DoD Suicide Prevention Outreach Recognition:
• Army: Fort Carson, Colorado.
• Marine Corps: Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
• Navy: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
• Air Force: 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa AB, Japan
• National Guard Bureau: Indiana National Guard Camp Atterbury

These recipients offered a variety of innovative activities in their multi-component programming for Suicide Prevention Month.

While the DoD is recognizing suicide prevention outreach efforts during September’s Suicide Prevention Month, it is important to #BeThere for yourself and others every single day. Every day connections can make a big difference to someone feeling alone, in need or having thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, there is help. You can call the Military/Veterans Crisis Center at 1-800-273-8255, press 1, or visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ 24/7.