Social media has irreversibly changed the way we communicate and access information, from finding out the latest gossip to fueling revolutions around the world. Now that Facebook reaches nearly a billion people worldwide, we must find innovative ways to reach and connect people who may be in emotional crisis when seconds count.

Facebook, Blue Star Families, and VA have collaborated on an important resource to do just that. On Thursday, Facebook announced suicide prevention resources geared toward the unique needs of active duty troops, Veterans, and their families. If a threat or mention of suicide appears in a timeline, users can flag the user as a member of the military community, which will trigger a message with contact information for the Veterans Crisis Line to be sent to the person in distress.

The page will also urge the concerned parties to contact law enforcement to ensure they know they will be responding to a member of the military community in order to tailor their response accordingly.

“Partnering with the community, families, and friends of troops and Veterans is our primary tool to use against suicide and its devastating effects,” said Jan Kemp, VA’s national mental health program coordinator. “Letting Veterans and service members know there is hope and help is crucial, and we’re proud to work with Facebook and Blue Star Families to get this done.”

The reduction of active duty and Veteran suicide cannot be accomplished with technology and social media alone. We must inform ourselves about the warning signs of mental stress and learn to recognize them in the people that matter to us most. This new notification system is just a tool, but it will play a vital role in matching those in crisis with resources designed to help in their moment of need.

In the video above, shot at Facebook’s studio in Washington, D.C., watch Dr. Caitlin Thompson from VA’s Crisis Line, Dr. Vivian Greentree from Blue Star Families, and Dr. Denise Hamlin-Glover from the Wounded Warrior Project talk about key issues affecting military and Veteran families like PSTD and suicide prevention.

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Published on May. 11, 2012

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

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3 Comments

  1. Red May 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    The VA itself has become a place that is sometimes very stressful to visit. The personnel working there are not very friendly. I do not look forward to my visits to the VA. The VA here in Orlando used to be one of the best, but since the influx of soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the VA here seems to be very overbooked and the individual clinics are short staffed. I have been argued with, ignored, and been provided with bad medical treatment since my return to this area in June 2011. I believe when the place we soldiers should be going to for help presents a very undesirable situation, something is wrong. Want to avoid crisis and suicide? Start with the VA itself. Have them learn a bit about tact and caring.

    • PARSONS May 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      I AGREE ON THAT THE VA PERSONAL ARE A BIT ON THE MOODY SIDE, AND FOR WHEN YOU DO ASK FOR HELP SUCH AS I WAS SUICIDAL THEY MADE ME FEEL SO BAD ABOUT MYSELF THAT I WAS MORE LIKELY TO HURT MYSELF THEN AS TO HOW I FELT BEFORE ASKING FOR SOME MENTAL HELP. STILL IN ALL , ALL THEY DID WAS GIVE SOME DRUG’S AND GAVE ME A ONE HOUR APPT WITH A PHYCOLOGIST. AND TODAY I HAD A APPT AND THE PEOPLE THERE HAD NO CURTOUSY WHAT SO EVER . THE RECEPTIONIST JUST SAID WHAT’S YOUR LAST NAME AND LAST 4 DIGIT’S OF YOUR SOC SEC .TAKE A SIT AND THEY WILL CALL YOU. NOT A HIGH OR HOW YOU DOING JUST DISRESPECTFULL PEOPLE JUST DOING THE ONLY JOB THAT THERE QUALIFIED TO DO AND THEY HALF A$$ THAT TO. AND I ALSO AM SURPRISED THAT THE DR. ( NUEROLOGIST ) DID’NT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE GULF WAR ILLNESS, I HAD TO TELL HIM ABOUT THE PROBLEM’S TO I HOPE HE WOULD BETTER UNDERSTAND THE DIAGNOSES THAT HE GAVE ME . YOU WOULD THINK THEY SHOULD BE INFORMED THAT CERTAIN VETERAN’S HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO THESE ENVIROMENTAL LIST OF THING’S SO THEY COULD HAVE A MORE EDEUCATED DX FOR OUR AILMENT’S. I GUESS JUST SOMEONE GIVING THE TEST IS ALL THAT NEEDED TO BE DONE , I SUPPOSE I SHOULD BE HAPPY FOR THAT ??

  2. ROBERT MENDENHALL May 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    GREAT IDEA
    MAYBE YOU COULD DO SOMETHIG TO HELP VETS IN FINANCIAL CRISES TOO
    THAT WOULD HELP PREVENT SOME SUICIDES.

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