We all can take action to help prevent suicide, but many people don’t know what they can do to support a Veteran in their life who’s going through a difficult time. During Suicide Prevention Month and year round, help VA let people know that preventing suicide starts with this simple act of support: Be There.

You don’t need to make a grand gesture: A simple act of kindness shows you care. You can call up an old friend, check in on a neighbor, cook someone dinner, or invite a colleague on a walk. You can also encourage Veterans to take time for themselves and to focus on their own health and wellness.  

If you are worried about Veterans who may be at risk for suicide, here’s what you can do to help connect them with treatment and support:

  • If you are concerned that a Veteran is in crisis or at immediate risk for suicide, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. Caring, qualified VA responders can help you determine ways to keep someone safe and connect the Veteran you care about with support.
  • If you notice that a Veteran is going through a difficult time and aren’t sure how to start a conversation or how to connect them with support, contact VA’s Coaching into Care program. Call 1-888-823-7458 to connect with a licensed clinical social worker or psychologist who can help you figure out how to help motivate someone to get support.
  • Talk with a Veteran’s friends. Peer support, especially from others who have military experience, can be crucial in helping someone open up.
  • Encourage everyone, especially those going through a difficult time, to store their firearms safely. Watch VA’s gun safety video to learn more: VeteransCrisisLine.net/GunSafetyVideo

Letting a Veteran friend or loved one know you’re concerned about them may seem daunting, but know you can make a difference by starting a conversation. The most important thing is to show genuine, heartfelt support for someone going through a tough time and being there to help.

Visit VeteransCrisisLine.net/BeThere to learn how you and others in your community can Be There to prevent suicide, and download materials you can share at VeteransCrisisLine.net/SpreadTheWord.

Thank you for being there for the Veterans in your life and showing support this Suicide Prevention Month.

About the author: Megan McCarthy, Ph.D., is the deputy director of suicide prevention for the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention where she helps shape VA’s integrated public health approach to suicide prevention. Dr. McCarthy is also an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine, and she maintains a private psychotherapy practice in San Francisco.


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Published on Sep. 6, 2017

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 103


  1. Thomas F Mohnker Sr September 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Some of you remember the VA as it was years ago, or maybe just two years ago – total disaster! But, have you gone to the VA Clinic in your community lately? I have, and that’s probably why I am still alive! My local clinic did have a few “witches” who were working there treating VETs badly! But, that’s not the VA today! The “witches” are gone for the most part, and the ones remaining have changed. Why? I don’t know, but I’d like to think that VA Management at all levels just got tired of their B.S. and got rid of them. And, with new laws today, it’s even easier to fire a VA employee who just isn’t making it. When I call the VA, normally they say, “Can you come in today.” That sure beats the hell out of the VA I knew when I retired from the Air Force in 1987. It used to take months to get in, and they didn’t care if you were having severe chest pains or were suicidal. BUT TODAY IS DIFFERENT, my fellow Vets. And, if your local VA Clinic is overworked and treats you without respect, don’t sit quietly at home and take it. Get on your phone and start bringing this bad clinic to the surface of their superiors. The VA, like most organizations, think all is well unless someone complains. Write the VA Director in Washington or your state VA Director. Write your Senator, Congressman, or even the PRESIDENT. I can assure you, you will get results. It might take a few day, but when they find out what’s going on in your clinic, all hell is going to break lose! I went into my local VA Clinic recently and while I was sitting there explaining to the nurse why I had come to the clinic, I started having chest pains that went down into my left arm. In less than 10 min I was in an ambulance going to the ER. I was fine..just a stomach problem. But my point is HOW’S THAT FOR SERVICE!? And when I go into see my VA doc, he always spends time with me to make sure I am ok physically and mentally! My VA is #1. Evaluate yours!! Good luck brothers and sisters! Tom M in NW Penna

  2. Patrick Ballou September 15, 2017 at 11:26 am

    My neighbor my friend 89 yrs old committed scuicide two and one half years ago a veteran from world war 2. There were no signs that I knew of but later after his passing we found out he might have been thinking about it for a while. It was quite trama for me when I found him hanging in his garage.I treasure the good moments I had with him and would not recommend that way of ending your life for himself and for the people left behind.

  3. paul September 10, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Yes and have the people stop saying you did not serve long enough to receive disability benefits……

  4. Pearl C Babb September 8, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I believe that you have done a really good job with my son since he finally decided he needed help. Thankyou. I know there are so many needing help but if anyone sees a veteran or anyone else getting to that danger point LET SOMEONE KNOW. With a vet call 1-800-273-8255. Please we must decrease the number of suicides.

  5. Edward September 6, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    If you truly mean to reduce suicides, start firing people in the regional offices that intentionally cause unnecessary delays in processing their claims, have health care/mental health professionals actually listen to their patients and when there is a problem/issue, resolve it in a timely manner. Not that hard of a fix.

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