Suicide Prevention Awareness Month - Quality of Care
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Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

VA ACE card - Ask, Care, Escort

Quality of care for Veteran’s includes raising awareness around important health topics. By highlighting some of the national health awareness campaigns each month, Veterans can get ideas, information, and resources on a variety of health matters.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and we want to raise you and your loved one’s awareness on how you can protect yourselves from 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 1.6 million calls and made more than 45,000 lifesaving rescues. To reach someone right away you can dial a number and speak with someone, send a text, or easily start an online chat.

A recent VA study found that veterans using VA care had lower suicide rates than those that did not use VA care.  For women Veterans the rate was 75% lower and for men it was 20% lower than those not using VA health care.  Learning and watching for signs of concerning behavior can help you and your loved ones get help!

Some signs of concerning behavior include:

• Hopelessness, feeling like there is no way out
• Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
• Feeling like there is no reason to live
• Feelings of Rage or anger
• Doing risky activities without thinking
• Increased alcohol or drug use
• Withdrawing from family and friends

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

• 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 links below to open in new tab)

VA ACE Brochure (Act, Care, Escort)

ThePowerOf1Movement - Veterans Crisis Line

Suicide Prevention Month Toolkit - Veterans Crisis Line

VA’s Suicide Prevention Site

Veterans Self-Check Quiz