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Suicide Prevention Month — It Matters

call center workers consult near a woman taking a call

The Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 890,000 calls.

by Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer
Monday, September 9, 2013

September is Suicide Prevention Month, time to remind America that — It Matters. It’s about the crisis too many of our wounded warriors face. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and numerous other government and private organizations are joining together to participate in Suicide Prevention Month activities.

Call! Talk About It!

VA’s Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring responders through a confidential toll-free hotline and online chat.

Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or chat online to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The caring professionals at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances. Many of the responders are Veterans and understand what Veterans and their families and friends have been through and the challenges Veterans of all ages and service eras face.

Call and tell them about anything that has been particularly stressful for you lately — the death of a loved one, relationship break-up, loss of job or unemployment, money problems, losing your home or anything else that might be contributing to how you are feeling.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 890,000 calls and made more than 30,000 life-saving rescues. In 2009, the Veterans Crisis Line added an anonymous online chat service and has engaged in more than 108,000 chats.

Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to receive confidential support

Help at Every VA Medical Center

People who know a Veteran best may be the first to recognize emotional distress and reach out for support when issues reach a crisis point — well before a Veteran is at risk of suicide.

To make sure all Veterans and their loved ones are aware of the Veterans Crisis Line, VA is coordinating with communities and partners nationwide to let Veterans and their loved ones know that support is available whenever, if ever, they need it.

There is a Suicide Prevention Coordinator at every VA Medical Center. This month they are working with community supporters to coordinate special outreach events including seminars, health fairs, training and information sessions, community events and events at many VA Medical Centers.

Here is more information on suicide prevention and other mental health issues.

It is not unusual to face disappointments, frustrations, loss and the wear and tear of daily stress. People experience emotional and mental health crises in response to a wide range of situations — from difficulties in their personal relationships to the loss of a job.

For Veterans, these crises can be heightened by their experiences during military service. When emotional issues reach a crisis point, it’s time to call on the Veterans Crisis Line for support.

Recognize the Signs

Sometimes a crisis may involve thoughts of suicide.

Learn to recognize these warning signs:

  • Hopelessness, feeling like there’s no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness or mood swings
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Rage or anger
  • Engaging in risky activities without thinking
  • Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

The following signs require immediate attention:

  • Thinking about hurting or killing yourself
  • Looking for ways to kill yourself
  • Talking about death, dying or suicide
  • Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, weapons, etc.

If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is experiencing any of these signs, call the Veterans Crisis Line immediately. Responders are standing by to help.

Anonymous Online Quiz That Will Help

Crisis, stress, depression and other issues affect people in different ways. Maybe you’re having trouble sleeping or feel out of control. Maybe your energy level is down or you feel anxious all the time. If these issues and others seem to be leading to a crisis, treatment can help.

On the Crisis Line website you can take a confidential, anonymous, risk assessment to see how you might benefit from VA or community-based services.

You don’t have to give your name. You just answer some questions that may be very familiar. Such as:

During the last 4 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following?

  • Feeling nervous or worrying a lot?
  • Having arguments or fights?
  • Feeling out of control?

Suicide prevention is one of VA’s top priorities. Prevention goes beyond a month, a week or a day. With VA, prevention is constant and we do that by making sure Veterans and their families are aware of the signs and symptoms and that they know where to go for help when they need it.