COLORADO SPRINGS — The Department of Defense is now offering two online courses to provide support and guidance for those affected by suicide.

“The first course is for everyone, but particularly for those more directly affected,” said Lisa Valentine, Program Manager for Military OneSource’s Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors Office.

The course covers communication techniques, ways to connect or stay connected to a support system, and reminders for how to maintain physical and mental health during this difficult time. Valentine said the course teaches new ways to care for yourself and others when experiencing a range of complex emotions.

The course, “After a Suicide,” is about 45 minutes long and can be accessed here.

On average, each death by suicide affects about 135 others, Valentine said. “If you are a service member and you lost one of your fellow comrades to suicide, we would highly recommend that you take this course. It’s very, very helpful,” she said.  

The second course being offered, entitled “After a Suicide – Walking Through Providing Support,” runs two hours in length and offers service providers support in guiding someone through the effects of a suicide. Valentine said chaplains and family support personnel would greatly benefit from the second course, as well as military leaders and supervisors.

“Service providers are not immune from the effects of a death by suicide,” added Andrew Moon, the Acting Director for research, evaluation, and data/surveillance for the Defense Suicide Prevention Office.  ”This course will help you gain a greater awareness of the complicated nature of suicide and establish a rapport with suicide loss survivors. It also offers tools to help protect against the heavy impact of a suicide death.”

The course for service providers can be found here.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate mental health assistance, dial 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.