Latest National and VA Suicide Prevention Information
Research has shown that those veterans who stay in touch with their Veterans Administration services are less likely to commit suicide than those with no or lapsed connections. For veterans, this is a big advantage as the VA services are on the front line when it comes to saving lives.
There is a new national suicide prevention hotline number, Dial 988, that is rolling out in marketing all across America. You can learn more about that here. 2020 has seen a rise in suicides across all spectrums and age groups, including veterans – despite increased efforts to get that number down. With 22 soldier suicides per day, 16 being veterans, we need more prevention. The recently signed Moran Bill recognized the role PTSD plays in veteran suicide, but it will be a year at least until those grants hit the front-line charities it was designed to support. Until then, here are some steps you can take for yourself or someone you suspect of having thoughts of suicide.
Suicide Warning Signs
Kathleen Smith, PhD, LPC says that people can become suicidal when they feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges. They lack hope for the future, and they see suicide as the only solution. It’s sort of a tunnel vision where other options seem useless. Having a family history of suicide or impulsive behavior is also believed to increase risk of suicidality.
In her November, 2020 Psycom.net article, she lists a series of factors seperated into these categories:
- History of substance abuse
- Access to firearms
- Difficult life events
- Isolation from others
- History of mental illness
- History of physical or sexual abuse
- Having a terminal or chronic illness
- Past suicide attempts
There are also emotional, verbal and behavioral markers (symptoms or signs) to be on the look out for:
Emotional Markers can include:
- Feeling depressed
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Shame or humiliation
- Mood swings
Verbal Markers include talking about:
- Killing themselves
- Their life having no purpose
- Feeling like a burden
- Feeling stuck
- Not wanting to exist
Behavioral Markers can include:
- Isolating from others
- Not communicating with friends or family
- Giving away possessions or writing a will
- Driving recklessly
- Increased aggression
- Increased drug and alcohol use
- Searching about suicide on the Internet
- Gathering materials (pills or a weapon)
For veterans in distress, here is the latest from the VA:
If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, connect with our caring, qualified Veterans Crisis Line responders for confidential help. Many of them are Veterans themselves. This service is private, free, and available 24/7.
To connect with a Veterans Crisis Line responder anytime day or night:
- Call 800-273-8255, then select 1.
- Start a confidential chat.
- Text 838255.
- If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 800-799-4889
You can also:
- Call 988
- Go to the nearest emergency room.
- Go directly to your nearest VA medical center. It doesn’t matter what your discharge status is or if you’re enrolled in VA health care.
Find your nearest VA medical center
ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER
Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.
Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.
We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.
Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.