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“Col. Michael A. Miller, commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, reportedly commented that “killing yourself is a chickenshit way to go” during a 1.2 mile “resiliency day” run with personnel on Friday.”

Okay, this is wrong on a number of counts.

First, “killing yourself is a chickenshit way to go,” seriously? I’ve come close enough to ending my own life that I can tell you what the barrel of my gun tastes like. He obviously has no concept of the courage it takes to suck on the barrel of that gun. Secondly, the concept that suicide is a function of how strong or weak someone is, is wrong, and dangerous. My friends who live with mental illness and thoughts of suicide are some of the strongest people I know. Neuro-normal people, like the Air Force Commander have no idea the strength and courage it takes someone living with depression and suicide to get out of the bed in the morning, paste on a smile and walk through their day as if nothing is wrong.

The Air Force stand down day to discuss suicide prevention is a good idea, focusing on resilience, is bad idea. Resilience, like strength or the lack thereof, is not the issue. It’s a neuro-normal person’s idea of a solution for depression and thoughts of suicide. It’s just another version of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” It’s hard to do that, when you’re hanging from your belt…not to put too fine a point on it.

I was contacted by two Air Force bases on the possibility of me coming in and speaking on Suicide Prevention as a Military Health and Safety Issue. I’ll be speaking at neither. Why not? Because I my fee was too high. Really? Higher than the cost of losing a record number of airmen to suicide this year (the number who have died by suicide is higher already than any other year).

It doesn’t cost anything to have the Commander stand up and tell the troops to cowboy up. Good luck with that.

Air Force Commander says “airmen who die by suicide are chicken shit”

Air Force’s emphasis on “resilience” to prevent suicides is wrongheaded

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