The Air Force has announced that all of its wings take a one-day operations stand-down over the next 45 days to address a concerning rise in suicides across the service, Military.com reported.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein issued the directive for the one-day “tactical pause” in a letter that addresses the rise in airman suicides, emphasizing the stand-down intent to focus on resiliency and suicide prevention, according to the report.
In the letter to Air Force commanders, Goldfein called for leaders to increase their awareness and take advantage of the stand-down to get personal on the sensitive issue of addressing suicide within the ranks.
“Suicide attacks sometimes with and often without warning,” Goldfein wrote. “Make this tactical pause matter. Make it yours and make it personal.”
In a video following Goldfein’s directive, Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright explained the stand-down effort will serve as an opportunity for promoting resiliency in airman.
“Our teammates are taking their own lives,” Wright said in the video. “We lose more airmen to suicide than any other single enemy.”
According to Wright’s video, 78 airman have taken their lives in 2019, nearly 30 more than at this time in 2018.
“This is the start of an ongoing dialogue about the force’s well-being, and it’s going to require continuous engagement,” Air Force Spokesman Maj. Will Russell said in a statement. “The collected feedback will drive changes to programs if necessary, as well as inform more effective ways to empower leaders at the lowest level.”
Air Force photo by Wayne Clark