The US Air Force emphasizes a healthy airman-to-airman support system. They have taught this in the form of acronym ACE for years now, distributing playing cards with an ace symbol on it and the definition of the acronym. It’s part of what they call, “being a good wingman.”
Regardless whether you don a uniform to serve our country’s great military or if you are a civilian outside of military ranks, the ACE acronym is an excellent tool to use in the scenario if someone you know is struggling with suicide ideation.
Ask – Ask how the person is doing
Be Aware. Learn the warning signs. Get involved and show interest and support. Ask if they are thinking about suicide. Be direct, talk openly about the thought of suicide.
Care – Listen to them and make sure they don’t harm themselves
Prevent something harmful from happening. Take action and remove means of harming themselves. Listen, allow for expression of feelings and acknowledge them without being judgmental. Don’t ask why, don’t act shocked, don’t be sworn to secrecy; seek support.
Escort – Get them to a healthcare team provider or professional that is trained in suicide prevention and crisis intervention
Don’t leave them by themselves. Talk to your family or friends and contact their support network (family, doctor, therapist). Go with them to see that they get there.
The battle to fight suicide and suicide ideation is real. Be a good wingman and friend and don’t be afraid. Ask, Care and Escort if you’re around someone who is in a dangerous situation. Your actions can be instrumental in saving someone’s life.