In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) 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. 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 Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System is working hard to end veteran suicide, but we know that only about a third of veterans come to VA for health care,” said Mark E. Morgan, director, EOVAHCS. “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. Please don’t underestimate how much you can do. 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 your 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, https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/education/signs-of-crisis.
• Watch the free S.A.V.E. training video to equip yourself to respond with care and compassion if someone you know indicates they are having thoughts of suicide, https://psycharmor.org/courses/s-a-v-e/.
Check out VA’s Social Media Safety Toolkit to learn how to recognize and respond to social media posts that may indicate emotional distress, feelings of crisis or thoughts of suicide.