To the Editor:
September is suicide prevention month and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs empowers communities to take action to support our nation’s veterans. 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 veterans 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 who are willing to listen.
You can make a difference by just starting a conversation. Keep in mind that 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 feeling connected is shown to reduce suicide risk.
Learn more ways to show your support 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 life-saving support. If you believe a veteran 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. The 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, M.D.
Acting Medical Center Director
White River Junction VAMC