In Bergen County, members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars recently joined county and community providers to receive VA’s new S.A.V.E. training.
The training helps people to act with care and compassion if they encounter a Veteran who is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts. The acronym S.A.V.E. helps people remember the important steps involved in suicide prevention:
Signs of suicidal thinking should be recognized
Ask the most important question of all — “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
Validate the Veteran’s experience
Encourage treatment and Expedite getting help
This training was provided by VA New Jersey Health Care System’s Suicide Prevention team as a part of a countywide coalition to end Veteran suicide called Bergen County Rise. “Our veterans, servicemembers, and their families need to know we are here for them. I feel like I can talk to someone who may be in crisis or having suicidal thoughts,” said a VFW member in attendance. “It’s important that all of us take responsibility in ending Veteran suicide. That starts with feeling comfortable talking about it.”
Keeping the conversation about suicide prevention going is why Bergen County Rise was formed. Their first initiative as a coalition was to get Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, NJ SOS Veteran Stakeholders Group, county and local organizations up to speed with VA’s new S.A.V.E. training. “I encourage everyone to learn how to help veterans at risk and to focus on promoting connectedness in our communities,” said Martha Rodriguez, VA Suicide Prevention and Community Engagement and Partnership Coordinator.
David Pearson, NJ SOS Veterans Stakeholders Group Co-Chair had this to say of the event. “If it means more people are aware of this issue and better prepared to confront it, I am all for it.”
VA New Jersey Health Care System, along with the Bergen County Rise coalition, are working on various other initiatives to coordinate resources, to raise awareness, train and educate communities in the county to combat Veteran suicide and save lives. The coalition believes that being able to identify the signs of suicidal thinking and knowing how to get help to those who need it will do just that. They strive to promote connectedness and improved care for Veterans, in addition to focusing on increased lethal means safety for Veterans.
VA wants to help you start a Veteran-focused Suicide Prevention Coalition in your community. Please reach out to a VANJHCS Suicide Prevention Community Engagement & Partnership Coordinator learn how we can help you.