Help to prevent veteran suicides

EDITOR:

Suicide is a national public health concern that affects communities everywhere. Yet, it is preventable.

While the VA has several suicide prevention initiatives and programs, the most important suicide prevention effort comes from those who are closest to the veteran.

You do not need to have special training to support the veteran in your life. Simple acts of kindness and small actions of support are thoughtful ways to show you care. Showing your support can be as simple as sending a veteran a text message, calling them, or inviting them over to catch up. Your willingness to be there and listen to a veteran in need can have a huge impact.

Approaching the subject of suicide with someone you know can seem very difficult, but it is very important to start the conversation — and it does not increase the risk of suicide to talk about it. VA has resources to help through our #BeThere campaign (www.bethereforveterans.com) and Coaching into Care services (800-823-7458 or www.va.gov/coachingintocare). If you are concerned about a veteran, you or the veteran can contact the Veterans Crisis Line 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1, chatting online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net, or sending a text to 838255.

Reaching out to a veteran in your life who is experiencing a rough time and opening the door for a discussion can make all the difference.

Drew A. DeWitt

Acting director,

Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center

Iron Mountain

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