A Death In Cannon AFB, NM

photo of cloudy skies over american flag
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Although I can’t, or really shouldn’t say that this Airman’s death was likely the result of bad leadership qualities, it does lend us some idea of how we could possibly be failing our Airmen. I found out about this tragedy from the Air Force amn/nco/snco page on FaceBook, and the comments on the article’s link for this Airman’s death were interesting, to say the least:

Cannon needs to be shutdown, a Climate Assessment survey (hint must be made public) should be made about how airmen feel about being in that region of New Mexico or how toxic leadership there needs to be disbanded.

My leadership was amazing and my coworkers fast became family. I loved it there. It was my best assignment. I feel bad for that sq, her friends, and family. But I dont for one second blame this onCannon AFB. Or the leadership there.

I can only speak for myself but when my family and I lived there we were not happy. The corruption of the city and the lack of civilization…

Honestly despite all the training we have for suicide prevention I don’t think it is working. I’ve taken 2 people to mental health who had plans to harm themselves and mental health has turned them away saying unless they try to do it they can’t do anything.

A base is truly what you make of it, and your experience is also dependent on how your leadership treats you. Of course, we can’t automatically assume that the likely reason for why she took her life was due to the base’s location or her leadership. Rather, we should take into consideration on how this may have slipped through the cracks and no one was able to prevent it. How was it that, from her roommate to her squadron commander, no one could’ve recognized the outward signs of depression?  Afterall, as all Airmen should be aware of the “Little Brown Book,” or AFI 36-2918, The Enlisted Force Structure, there is a part in all three tiers that mention us looking out for each other’s well-being:

3.1.4.3.2.  […] Junior enlisted Airmen have a very important role in suicide prevention.

4.1.4.3.2. […] Follow-up and monitor the situation to ensure the issue is properly addressed and resolved. NCOs have a very important role in suicide prevention. 

5.1.13. Promote responsible behaviors within all Airmen. Readily detect and correct unsafe and/or irresponsible behaviors that negatively impact unit or individual readiness. Promote peer involvement in detecting and correcting unsafe and irresponsible behaviors […]

The Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) are expected to promote responsible behaviors by quickly identifying potential signs of suicide; the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) are responsible for ensuring appropriate identification is sought as well as ensuring people are getting the correct resources to overcome their obstacles; and the Airman tier is responsible for looking out for one another. Every part of the enlisted structure is expected to have a hand at suicide prevention, even if it means asking if someone is okay. Alas, hindsight is at 20/20. Maybe her leadership did see the signs but couldn’t stop her since she already made up her mind? Either way I’m not here to blame anyone for her death.

Mainly, I’m just hear to say that we need to be watching out for each other and protecting each other from things like this. Step out of your comfort zone and really ask that awkward question of whether or not someone is having thoughts of suicide. If you recognize some “off-pattern” behaviors in someone, don’t be afraid to confront them about it. Be a good wingmand and be a lending ear when someone is having problems in their life. Most people are not willing to speak about their problems at freewill; someone needs to initiate that conversation with them. Carelessness is pretty much what I deem to be the first steps to building a toxic environment and chain-of-command. If we’re not looking out for one another, how are we to be so sure that we can all be prepared to continue the mission?

RIP SrA Jasmine Lovett 

 

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