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VA Medical Center recognizes Suicide Prevention Month

In Suicide Prevention Month, the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center is bringing awareness to the #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 finding innovative ways to deliver support and care to all 20 million U.S. veterans whenever and wherever they need it.

“The Iron Mountain 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 Sharon Anastas, suicide prevention coordinator. “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.”

No special training is needed to prevent suicide. Everyone can play a role by learning to recognize warning signs, showing compassion and care to veterans in need, and offer support.

Some actions that can be taken to Be There include:

— Reach out to veterans in your life to show you care. Send a check-in text, cook them dinner or simply ask, “How are you?”

— Learn about the warning signs of suicide, at the Veterans Crisis Line website at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/education/signs-of-crisis.

— Watch the free S.A.V.E. training video at https://psycharmor.org/courses/s-a-v-e/ to learn how to respond with care and compassion if someone indicates he or she is having thoughts of suicide.

— Check out the VA’s Social Media Safety Toolkit at https://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 the VA’s Coaching Into Care program at https://www.mirecc.va.gov/coaching/ if worried about a veteran. A licensed psychologist or social worker will provide guidance on motivating that veteran to seek support.

Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a veteran in trouble can contact the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support anytime at 1-800-273-8255, press 1; text to 838255; or chat online at http://veteranscrisisline.net/Chat.