Suicide Prevention Awareness Month - September



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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and we want to make sure you and your loved ones know there is help available for this tragic and complicated health issue.

In 2007 the VA established The Veterans Crisis Line, a free, confidential, 24-hour hotline for Veterans and their families and friends. Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis line has answered more than 2.8 million calls and dispatched emergency services to callers in crisis more than 74,000 times. To each someone right away you can dial a number and speak with someone, send a text, or easily start an online chat.

A VA study released in August 2016 examining more than 55 million Veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the country, shows an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide. Since 2001, the rate of suicide among U.S. Veterans who use VA services increased by 8.8 percent, while the rate of suicide among Veterans who do not use VA services increased by 38.6 percent.

Knowing and watching for signs of concerning behavior can help you and your loved ones get help.

Signs of concerning behavior include:

  • Appearing sad or depressed most of the time
  • Hopelessness, feeling like there is no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
  • Feeling like there is no purpose to living
  • Feelings of anger or rage
  • Doing risky activities without thinking
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

 If you notice any warning signs of concerning behavior here are some things you can do to help:

  • Start a conversation: Mention the signs that made you to talk to them. Stay calm and let the person know you want to help them. Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Listen, express concern and reassure the individual: Let the person know you care and that you take the situation seriously. Letting the person know you care will go a long way in establishing a support system.
  • Create a safety plan: Ask the person if they have access to anything that could harm them and call for help if you feel the situation is dangerous.
  • Get the individual help: Provide resources for the individual. Call the Veteran’s crisis line at 1(800)-273-8255.  Or if you feel the situation is severe, take the individual to the closest emergency room or seek help from a professional immediately.

Individuals experiencing such thoughts and behavior can make simple yet effective lifestyle changes to help alleviate these harmful thoughts and behavior.  These can include getting exercise, taking time off of work, and spending time with friends and family to avoid isolation and loneliness. Ultimately, anyone at risk or feeling uneasy should talk to their health care provider.

Below are resources that can help you and your family learn more about suicide prevention. Resources – (click to open in new tab)
The Veterans Crisis Line
Be Safe: Prevent Self-Harm – Myhealthevet

VA’s Suicide Prevention Site
Veterans Self-Check Quiz