To The Editor,
September is Suicide Prevention month and the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) empowers communities to take action to support our Nation’s Veterans. Each community across the country plays a role in supporting Veterans, but as an individual you may not know what to do or where to start.
You don’t need to have special training to support the Veteran’s in your life, and we can all do something to help a Veteran who is going through a difficult time. Even seemingly small actions can have a huge impact: Preventing suicide begins with just the willingness to Be There.
Showing your support can be as simple as sending a Veteran a text message- inviting someone over to catch up or sharing a positive thought are both great ways to communicate that you care. Your words could be exactly what a Veteran in crisis needs to hear, and could be a reminder of the many people out there who are willing to listen.
When you sense that a Veteran is not doing well, your words can help. You can make a difference by just starting a conversation. Although it can seem challenging, it is important to talk about difficult feelings and experiences. Keep in mind: Asking questions about thoughts of suicide does not increase a person’s suicide risk. Instead, an open conversation can help someone feel less alone and let others into the Veteran’s experience. Feeling connected is shown to reduce suicide risk.
Simply reaching out to a Veteran in need and opening the door for a discussion could make all the difference. Learn more ways to show your support and Be There by visiting VeteransCrisisLine.net/BeThere to find more resources and information.
Suicide prevention is VA’s highest priority. Every death by suicide is a tragedy, and we will not relent in our efforts to connect Veterans who are experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis with lifesaving support. If you believe a Veteran in your life may be contemplating suicide, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and PRESS 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net. Qualified and compassionate VA responders are on call 24/7/365 to provide guidance on how to connect Veterans with support and help them from harm.
Suicide is preventable. VA’s goal is to reduce suicide and suicidal behavior among all Veterans-even those who do not, and may never, seek care within our system.
Brett Rusch, MD
Acting Medical Center Director
White River Junction VAMC