September is Suicide Prevention Month: VA encourages supporters to Be There for veterans
September is Suicide Prevention Month and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wants to remind veterans and their loved ones through the Be There campaign that small actions can make a big difference to veterans experiencing difficult times.
During this and every month the Salem VA Health Care System remains committed to spreading awareness of suicide prevention to Veterans and their supporters and connecting them to the resources they need.
“The tragedy of Veteran suicide means we all must Be There for our Nation’s warriors,” said Alicia Dudley, Social Worker and Veteran Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Salem VA HCS. “Learning to watch for indicators of suicide or self-harm are important steps we can all take that may save a life.” Dudley said that suicide rates among Veterans are 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, with the highest rates among male and female Veterans between the ages of 18-34. “Overall, the rate of female Veteran suicide is more than twice what it is for non-Veteran adult females and 1.3 times higher when compared to non-Veteran adult men.”
Be There suggests several simple actions that can help make a difference for a Veteran to include:
- Learning about the warning signs of suicide, found on the Veterans Crisis Line website.
- Watching the free A.V.E. training video to learn how to respond with care and compassion if someone indicates they are having thoughts of suicide.
- Contacting VA’s Coaching Into Care program where a licensed psychologist or social worker will provide loved ones with guidance for motivating Veterans to seek support.
- Sharing stories of hope and recovery from VA’s Make the Connection.
- Reaching out to the Veterans in your life to show them you care by sending a check-in text, cook them dinner or simply asking, “How are you?”
- The Salem VAMC offers a Healing Grief Group for Veterans and/or the family of Veterans who have lost a loved one. Call Betty Gillespie at 520-982-2463 Ext. 4247.
- The VA has produced a Veteran Outreach Toolkit where people can learn more about Suicide Prevention.
For more information and resources visit BeThereForVeterans.com.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.