HELP SAVE A VETERAN'S LIFE
It matters little whether the numbers are right or wrong or twisted or spun, because we all know someone... or all have heard of someone... a veteran... with problems that may or may not have anything to do with their war experiences... young men and old men with depression... a relationship that has failed... debt and other financial problems... unemployment... isolation... health problems... a combination of all of these... perhaps you witness the warning signs... or you've seen excessive drinking and other forms of self-medicating trying to ease the distress but which solved nothing... there are those veterans who live on the edge of the abyss of a permanent solution to a temporary situation -- no longer able to see the larger picture.
We have come a long way in being able to discuss the dark side of our minds: stress (post-traumatic or otherwise), biploar disorders, insomnia, depression, anxiety... the list is lengthy. And while suicide is a topic that has only been whispered about in hushed and shameful tones, the biggest myth has always been that we should not talk about it... a taboo... forbidden.
The VA -- recognizing that Veterans are a special risk group and seeking to reverse the trend of rising rates -- earlier this year launched enhanced suicide prevention measures as part of a joint venture between the VA and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention hotline and it now has an immediate prompt that says, "if you are a U.S. military veteran, please press 1 now." The call is then routed to New York where a staff of specially trained counselors are available to immediately help veterans through the crisis... who have special knowledge of what a veteran goes through. 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
And it's not just talking to the veteran until he or she no longer feels suicidal that day: the veteran is immediately entered into the VA Medical system (if they weren't there already) and cross references their location to find them the closest facility to get them immediate help.
At the VA medical center nearest our home, the Suicide Prevention Coordinator relates a story of receiving a call from a young Veteran in a neighboring state who returned from Iraq and was beset by a series of personal problems and losses. Through the new information system, they arranged for the young man to receive emergency care through his local community hospital and later was transferred to the VA Hospital in Phoenix. When the Coordinator visited the veteran, he told her that he honestly had every intention of killing himself that night; she knew that he'd be dead if not for the intervention and care he received with one phone call.
It is estimated that this program has already saved nearly 100 Veterans. It would be worthwhile if it saved only ONE.
More people die every year by suicide than HIV or murder. People need to take notice. It's the only way we can make this change. So let us now talk openly and candidly about suicide... and its prevention.
Let's spread the word. I have added this button to my side bar... and I ask bloggers to add a button or banner to their blogs. I have added the "Veterans Press 1" tag near the button.
Spread the word! HERE are buttons & banners and the codes for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Help Save a Life. Help Save a Veteran's Life.
Maybe more than one.