HEADQUARTERS, NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — On an unseasonably cool morning, approximately 50 NAVAIR and Naval Air Station Patuxent River active duty and civilian employees gathered to watch the sun rise at the edge of the Patuxent River.

The seventh annual “Light of Day” event, held Aug. 23 at the River’s Edge Conference and Catering Center, kicked off National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in September and served to help employees start their day with a sense of positivity and kindness. The event included inspirational tips and a personal story related to suicide awareness.

“Let’s use this beautiful setting to say we’re getting to the left of the problem,” said Capt. Jason Hammond, Naval Air Station Patuxent River commanding officer.

Fiscal year 2019 Patuxent River chief selects gather before sunrise at the “Light of Day” event for National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month Aug. 23 in Patuxent River, Md. (U.S. Navy photo)

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, for Hammond, the suicide problem hit especially close to home when a Patuxent River sailor committed suicide at the end of last year.

“It touches the people left behind in a very personal way,” Hammond said. “Let’s use the inspiration of this morning to understand how we can help in any way. There is always, always, always a better option.”

Eric Evangelista, a retired limited duty officer, knows firsthand the importance of asking for help. He said he has experienced two major stressors: the death of his wife from cancer eight years ago and his recent retirement from the military.

“I’m not the kind of person who stresses,” he said, “but if it wasn’t for the right people coming along, I probably would have unraveled.”

The fiscal year 2019 Patuxent River chief selects also shared quotations about kindness and encouraged attendees to spread kindness and positivity.

If you or someone you know is having trouble managing stress or considering suicide, the Department of the Navy Civilian Employee Assistance Program offers free employee assistance and work/life services to help cope. Call 1-844-DONCEAP. Active duty and veteran personnel should contact their local chaplain or the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK.

12 Ways to Wake Up and Feel Positive for the Day

  1. Set your alarm to an uplifting tune.
  2. Wake up to a clean room.
  3. Smile, regardless of how you might feel at first.
  4. Stay off social media and your cell phone.
  5. Consider what makes you happy.
  6. Be grateful.
  7. Go for a morning run.
  8. Prepare a delicious breakfast.
  9. Relax your body.
  10. Focus on breathing.
  11. Look at something beautiful.
  12. Ask yourself, “How can I make this day amazing?”