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One sergeant's story

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England - Six years ago, Master Sgt. Kevin Carter, 494th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight chief, was overwhelmed by personal issues. Not seeking help from friends or co-workers, he attempted suicide. He survived however, and hopes his story will motivate others to seek help if they need to. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Cory D. Payne)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England - Six years ago, Master Sgt. Kevin Carter, 494th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight chief, was overwhelmed by personal issues. Not seeking help from friends or co-workers, he attempted suicide. He survived however, and hopes his story will motivate others to seek help if they need to. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Cory D. Payne)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England - Six years after his suicide attempt, Master Sgt. Kevin Carter, 494th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight chief, hopes his survival and recovery will inspire others to seek help when they need it. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Cory D. Payne)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England - Six years after his suicide attempt, Master Sgt. Kevin Carter, 494th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight chief, hopes his survival and recovery will inspire others to seek help when they need it. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Cory D. Payne)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Six years ago, Kevin Carter was a technical sergeant in the 494th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, and personal issues were piling up around him.

He couldn't stop anticipating negative outcomes to events. Worse still, he wasn't talking to his friends or co-workers about what he was going through.

"[There] was a culmination of personal issues I didn't want to talk about and I didn't want to get help. Instead of dealing with an issue and seeing how the cards may fall, I anticipated how the cards would fall," he said. "That's when the pressure [became] too great."

Finally, in the early hours of Sept. 14, 2005, Carter's worries woke him up as they had before.

"I woke up because I was worrying about these issues and my mind was racing to figure out how to solve them," he said.

But on this particular morning, Carter felt as though he'd finally found the solution. He took a knife and used it on himself in an attempt to commit suicide.

"In hindsight, all I had to do was just bring the matters up, but at that point you're not thinking rationally," he said.

But after he performed the act, Carter said, common sense kicked in.

"It was kind of like I stepped out of myself. I was looking at myself and said 'this is not you; this isn't the road you want to go down.'"

Carter managed to phone paramedics and was taken to the RAF Lakenheath Hospital. Even now, he holds great respect for the doctors who saved his life.

As he recovered, the number of visitors Carter received opened his eyes to his value to others.

"It seemed like I caught everyone off guard," he said, "and I mean everyone from my girlfriend to my commander and everyone in between.

"Here's a guy who, on the outside, you wouldn't notice anything is wrong, and one day he's in the hospital for attempting suicide."

Today, Master Sgt. Kevin Carter is a flight chief with the 494th AMU. He has fully recovered from his physical injuries and wants to offer advice to other Airmen who may find themselves in the same place he found himself in six years ago.

"Don't worry about things you can't control. If it doesn't go your way, that's fine. Just regroup and press on," he advised.

Even more important, though, is reaching out.

"If you need help, always talk to someone," Carter said. "Make sure you have a support base; family, friends, co-workers, chaplain. Because you never know, you may discuss your issue with somebody and find they've gone through the exact same thing."