Veteran Connection: September is Suicide Prevention Month

Tiffani Mathews, Veteran Connection

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and during this and every month, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) remains committed to spreading awareness of suicide prevention to veterans and their supporters, connecting them to resources they need. 

That commitment has made it possible to create programs like VA’s Suicide Prevention Program, which provides education to VA staff and the community while providing case management to veterans who are considered high risk for suicide.

The use of universal screening throughout EOVAHCS, and by participating in national awareness campaigns such as “Be There,” has helped identify veterans at risk for suicide, making it possible to offer immediate intervention and support.

Daphne Hillhouse is a social worker and suicide prevention coordinator for EOVAHCS and doesn’t just consider suicide prevention part of her job, but rather a calling.

“The Suicide Prevention team works with veterans to find a solution to whatever they are struggling with,” Hillhouse said. “We reach out to veterans who are hurting, feel weak, and need help. Each member of our team chose this field due to a foundational belief that we can prevent suicide with team-based, patient-centered interventions, and we get to see lives saved.”

While raising awareness and providing more resources has proven successful in reducing suicide deaths among veterans who receive care at the VA, Hillhouse and her team continue to urge the community to educate those who may not be aware.

“We need the help of the community to reach those who are not using VA services so that all veterans have help in times of crisis,” Hillhouse said. “It is important they are aware of resources available to them, such as the Veteran Crisis Line, for immediate crisis intervention.”

Caregivers and loved ones can also find support through the crisis line, as well as the Suicide Prevention team, who can make community referrals when needed.

On Sept. 26, Hillhouse and her team will be participating in the Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk in Jenks, and invite all members of the community to join them.

“It is a large meeting of like-minded people from across the city of Tulsa,” Hillhouse said. “In attendance will be those who have lost loved ones to suicide, survivors, and those who work to decrease suicide. While the topic is somber, we will have fun bringing awareness to a great cause.”

What to do

• If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please go to your local Emergency Department or contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.  

• If you would like to join the Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk, contact Daphne Hillhouse: (918) 616-9813.

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