As one way to promote awareness for Suicide Prevention Month during the pandemic, Doryan Dixon, RaShonda Labrador and Millie Frank came up with a plan that centered on the number 22. The number has been used to draw attention to how many veterans die by suicide a day.
Frank, the Suicide Prevention Program Manager at Fort Belvoir, Dixon, the Army Substance Abuse Program Manager and Labrador, the Prevention Branch Supervisor, devised three sets of activities to engage the general public’s participation by staying informally connected. Using the theme of a “Call to Action,” the first day is Sept. 14, where people are encouraged to do 22 pushups. On Sept. 16, people are encouraged to walk or run 2.2 miles and on Sept. 18 people are encouraged to mediate for 22 minutes.
“We want to come up with ideas to show solidarity and reach out to connect,” Frank said.
Frank said the coronavirus prevented her team from coming together like last year when Belvoir MWR hosted the #BeThere Resilience Team Challenge, a physical fitness event that featured teams of four working together to do a 1,600-meter relay race, 22 push-ups and a circuit through the obstacle course.
Although done apart this year, this year’s three challenges still serve the same purpose.
“We have to have some visibility trying to give people as many resources as we can,” Frank said. “Soldiers should never go into battle themselves. Suicide comes to you by yourself, but you don’t have to suffer by yourself.”
Share a photo
For the 2.2 mile run and the 22 push-ups, Frank said they are asking participants to also upload a photo to share their experience. For the mediation part, Frank said they want people to take a moment to decompress, especially now where self-isolation has become more frequent.
“They are trying times,” Frank said.
In addition to the Call to Action Resilience Challenge, Frank said they will use a virtual media campaign to get their message out. There will be Facebook posts Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Sept. 23 and 30, short videos called “Your Story is not over” will be published Wednesdays on Fort Belvoir’s ASAP Facebook page.
Educational materials are also available at all Fort Belvoir gym facilities.
For more information, call (703) 805-5529/1093 or go to https://www.facebook.com/FortBelvoirASAP.