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Suicide Prevention: One Woman’s Story about Loss, Grief, and a Program that can Help

Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by LivingWorks. 

 

Courtney Deady and her brother, Austin, were just beginning to form what she would call a friendship: Austin would drive 45 minutes to keep her company when her husband was away on extended TDY deployments. “Want to go get some food?” he’d ask, trying to make it seem like he hadn’t driven all that way just to spend time with her. Seven years apart, Courtney was no longer seeing Austin as her annoying little brother.

Sure, he was a typical boy, wild in nature and invincible. He loved dirt biking and working with his hands, taking things apart and putting them back together again. In recent years, he seemed to be maturing and found his calling when he attended vocational school and became a line supervisor at a local manufacturing company. Courtney was concerned about some of his volatile relationships, and more than once heard him say to his girlfriend while arguing, “If you leave me, I’m gonna kill myself.” She chalked it up to a dysfunctional relationship, but thought nothing more of it.

At the age of 21, Austin took his own life on November 24, 2018. First on the scene, Courtney received countless hours of therapy to deal with the shock, trauma, and loss one might expect. And, feelings of guilt.

“A lot of people say those threats are crying wolf, now looking back on it, I know it was a cry for help. And, that’s a hard pill to swallow,” says Deady. “I feel that if maybe I was able to help him navigate those emotions and behaviors, maybe we could have found a way for him to channel that energy and direct it somewhere else.”

What Courtney is feeling is normal after a suicide. Oftentimes, we hear people say, “If only I’d known what to look for” or “What could I have done to help?” Suicide is a topic most of us don’t want to talk about. We don’t want to ask about it because we’re afraid of what to do next. We don’t know what to say, so we say nothing at all.

A new program is now available to National Guard members, spouses and families that can equip people with the skills to recognize when someone is having thoughts of suicide and connect them to help.

LivingWorks Start is an online and engaging course that in just 90 minutes gives people the confidence to ask directly if someone is considering suicide. It’s even suitable for teens ages 13 and up.

Just because you ask doesn’t mean you have to solve their problem, but it does mean you can connect them to help. While there’s no guarantee the help will be effective, having the conversation and making the connections has a much better chance of success than saying and doing nothing. There are so many resources out there, but often people suffer in silence. In the military community, there’s fear of appearing weak and the uncertainty of how that may impact their career.

“Something that all members, whether active or National Guard, need to know is that they won’t hold it against you. If you are open and honest, they can get you the help you need to carry out your job,” says Deady.

Deady is pleased to see the National Guard taking steps to promote suicide prevention. As a military spouse, she hears stories from her husband about Guard members in his unit who have had thoughts of suicide or have attempted suicide. The statistics are telling—more than 20 deaths per 100,000 service members. Guard members are more vulnerable as they often struggle with the stress of a dual life, holding down both civilian and military jobs simultaneously.

Deady and her husband live about two and a half hours from the base where he works. When Guard members aren’t activated, they’re geographically dispersed from their squad members and it can be hard to maintain those supportive connections and access available resources. She thinks a course they can do at home, on their own time, is both convenient and empowering.

“The suicide rates in the military are unacceptable. With LivingWorks Start, think about how many people will be better equipped to help spot the signs of someone struggling,” says Deady. “I’ve heard from people who’ve survived their suicide attempts and they often say all they needed was a conversation.

Now, we’re better prepared to have that conversation.” Deady is on a mission to raise awareness about suicide prevention. In Austin’s memory, she has created a local team in their area known as the Orange Brigade.

“Orange is Austin’s favorite color; it is the color of his dirt bike.”

LivingWorks, a world leader in suicide prevention training, envisions a world where people with thoughts of suicide are well supported to try to get the help they need. Their programs have been used throughout the military for many years, bringing training to military units across the U.S. To learn more, please visit this site. 

If you are a member of the National Guard, request your complimentary LivingWorks Start license from the Suicide Prevention Manager in your unit.

Author

  • M:M Command Team

    With over 159 years of military spouse experience and 68 PCSes under their belts, the M:M Command team is the ultimate Battle Buddy to help navigate Milspouse life. Powered by volunteer spirit and optimism the M:M Command Team could run a small country, but instead are dedicated entirely to the global empowerment of military spouses to help them conquer adversity, foster confidence, and thrive in this military life.

2 Comments

  1. Sharita Knobloch

    So very moving and empowering. I hope that milspouses that read this consider partnering with LivingWorks to get equipped to be a safety net or connection point within their respective military families. Thanks not only for sharing this information, but also for sponsoring AWN!

    Reply
  2. melonie

    This woman has touched my life recently tly and honestly can say I was at a breaking point and she made me realize everything is ok! Angel send to me for sure!

    Reply

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