Lions QB Shares Suicide Prevention Message

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
What we don't know can not only hurt us - it can kill us. And that's why a former Detroit Lions quarterback wants Michigan's military men and women to know about the warning signs of suicide.

Eric Hipple, who played for 10 seasons with the Detroit Lions in the National Football League in the 1980s, has faced the sad reality of suicide. After battling bouts of his own depression in the past, including one suicide attempt, he had to deal with the suicide death of his own 15-year-old son.

Since then, he's been on a mission to take the message of suicide awareness and prevention to forums large and small, near and far.

"Your mind and your body are far, far more important than your weapon system or your vehicle," he told a group of military and homeland security personnel at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, during a seminar on Sept. 21, 2011. "You need to take care of your mind, just as you do your body."

Hipple said that the need for suicide prevention and awareness should start long before someone is in a crisis mode.

"When we see a crisis, we respond to it," he said. "But we need to be aware of other warning signs, far, far earlier in the process."

The military services have increased efforts to make all personnel - active, Guard, Reserve, family, civilians - aware of suicide dangers after a major spike in military suicides in 2010.

"The bottom line is that even one suicide is too many," said John Contrucci, chapel programs specialist with the 127th Wing at Selfridge. The base chapel worked with the Army at the TACOM facility in Warren, Mich., to sponsor Hipple's visit. The former quarterback also spoke at TACOM.

Hipple pointed out that dealing with any kind of transition brings stress into a person's life. And, he said, the military deals with many types of transitions - going on deployment or returning from one, changing jobs or getting a new supervisor, changing relationships or moving.

"Stress takes a toll on our bodies," he said. "But there are ways to combat that.

"First, by acknowledging the stress, you can develop constructive ways to deal with it. Talking, working out are two ways to do that," he said.

Contrucci said the base chapel has resources available to assist a person in need.

"No one should have to feel alone," he said. "There people who are ready and willing to help."

Resources

127th Wing Chaplain's Office: 586-239-4020

Macomb County Crisis Center: 586-307-9100

Vets4Warriors: 1-855-Vet-Talk (1-855-838-8255)

Military One Source 1-800-342-9647

National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)