In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, the Chillicothe VA Medical Center is bringing awareness to its #BeThere campaign by encouraging community leaders, colleagues, and veterans’ families and friends to help prevent suicide by showing support for those who may be going through a diﬃcult time.
Suicide is a complex national public health issue that aﬀects communities nationwide, with more than 45,000 Americans, including more than 6,000 veterans, dying by suicide every year. But suicide is preventable. The VA is using a community-driven approach to prevent suicide and ﬁnd innovative ways to deliver support and care to all 20 million U.S. veterans whenever and wherever they need it.
“The Chillicothe VA is working hard to end veteran suicide, but we know that only about a third of veterans come to VA for health care,” said Dr. Kathy Berger, medical center director. “That’s why we need everyone in the community to get involved. This September, and all year, I encourage everyone to take a moment to be there for veterans in need. One act of thoughtfulness can make a big diﬀerence and may even save a life.”
You don’t need special training to prevent suicide. Everyone can play a role by learning to recognize warning signs, showing compassion and care to veterans in need, and oﬀering support. Here are some actions anyone can take to Be There:
· Reach out to the veterans in your life to show them you care. Send a check-in text, cook them dinner, or simply ask, “How are you?”
· Educate yourself on the warning signs of suicide, found on the Veterans Crisis Line website (www.veteranscrisisline.net/education/signs-of-crisis).
· Watch the free SAVE training video (psycharmor.org/courses/s-a-v-e) to equip yourself to respond with care and compassion if someone you know indicates they are having thoughts of suicide.
· Check out VA’s Social Media Safety Toolkit (www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/docs/OMH-074-Suicide-Prevention-Social-Media-Toolkit-1-8_508.pdf) to learn how to recognize and respond to social media posts that may indicate emotional distress, feelings of crisis or thoughts of suicide.
· Contact VA’s Coaching Into Care program (www.mirecc.va.gov/coaching) if you are worried about a veteran loved one. A licensed psychologist or social worker will provide guidance on motivating your loved one to seek support.
Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans Crisis Line for conﬁdential support available 24 hours a day, seven 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.
Submitted by Stacia Ruby, public affairs officer, Chillicothe VA Medical Center.