In support of Suicide Prevention Month, VA and Veterans of Foreign Wars teamed up for an #ExploreVA Facebook Live event to discuss how to recognize the need for mental health care and where to go to find help.
Dr. Keita Franklin, Executive Director of Suicide Prevention within VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and James Moss, Assistant Director for Veterans Health Policy at Veterans of Foreign Wars, provided information on a range of resources and services available to service members, Veterans and their family members. Dr. Franklin began by pointing out that for eligible service members, Veterans and family members, going into a Vet Center is a good first step.
“We have Vet Centers in communities wide and far, across all the states,” says Dr Franklin. Visit the VA Resource Locator to find local resources such as Suicide Prevention Coordinators, Crisis Centers and Vet Centers. Learn more at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/local-resources.
“This resource locator has a by-region list of all of our resources that are available. Particularly the specially-trained people called Suicide Prevention Coordinators… who are subject matter experts in suicide prevention and know how to navigate the system.”
With many family members and friends of service members and Veterans in the audience, Dr. Franklin outlined warning signs of crisis, such as relationship problems, feeling helpless or hopeless, feeling like a burden on others or withdrawing from friends and family. We all have a role to play in preventing suicide so the focus of the event shifted to suggestions for what to do if you are worried about someone in your life.
S.A.V.E. which stands for Signs, Ask, Validate, Encourage and Expedite, offers simple steps anyone – whether a treatment provider, clinician, friend or family member – can take when talking with Veterans at risk for suicide. The training, provided in collaboration with PsychArmor Institute, is a free online training course that teaches you how to identify Veterans at risk for suicide and how to help them. The free training video can be viewed at: https://psycharmor.org/courses/s-a-v-e/.
Showing your support can be as simple as sending a message by email, text or calling someone. Your words could be exactly what a service member or Veteran in crisis needs to hear. Having trouble convincing a Veteran to get help? Contact Coaching into Care at 1-888-823-7458.
For service members, Veterans and their families who are in crisis, they are encouraged to call the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255).
VA representatives responded to questions following the conversation and directed Veterans to Explore.VA.gov to learn more about VA health care.
If you missed this event, check out some highlights below.
Veterans wanted to know if they could receive help over the phone and how to get in touch with services if they lived in a rural area. The Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255) is a confidential service, available every day, 24/7.
Many participants wanted to know how to support a Veteran in crisis.
There was interest in how workplaces can educate their employees about mental health resources. Representatives encouraged viewers to take the S.A.V.E. training to identify Veterans at risk and learn how to assist them.
Others wanted to know what they could do to help support Suicide Prevention Month.
Thank you to all the service members, Veterans and their supporters who participated in the event. Stay tuned to the ExploreVA events page for information about upcoming events.
For more details about VA benefits and how to apply, visit Explore.VA.gov. Try using the ExploreVA Benefits Navigator to find out which benefits you and your family may be eligible to receive.
Watch the full video below or visit Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Facebook page.
Veterans in crisis or having thoughts of suicide and anyone who knows a Veteran in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text 838255.
Reporters covering the topic of suicide are encouraged to visit http://www.reportingonsuicide.org/ for important guidance.