September is Suicide Prevention Month VA encourages supporters to Be There for Veterans, connect with resources

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September is Suicide Prevention Month and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wants to remind veterans and their loved ones through the Be There campaign that small actions can make a big difference to veterans experiencing difficult times.

“Our mission is to provide supportive, timely, high quality crisis intervention while connecting veterans to services to ensure they know that they never have to struggle alone," said Nikole Jones, suicide prevention coordinator at the VA Maryland Health Care System.

September is Suicide Prevention Month and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wants to remind veterans and their loved ones through the Be There campaign that small actions can make a big difference to veterans experiencing difficult times.

During this and every month, the VA Maryland Health Care System remains committed to spreading awareness of suicide prevention to veterans and their supporters and connecting them to the resources they need.

“Our mission is to provide supportive, timely, high quality crisis intervention while connecting veterans to services to ensure they know that they never have to struggle alone. They have served us, and we want them to know that it is our time to serve them,” said Nikole Jones, suicide prevention coordinator at the VA Maryland Health Care System.

Be There suggests several simple actions that can help make a difference for a veteran, including:

  • Learning about the warning signs of suicide, found on the Veterans Crisis Line website.
  • Watching the free S.A.V.E. training video to learn how to respond with care and compassion if someone indicates they are having thoughts of suicide.
  • Contacting VA’s Coaching Into Care program where a licensed psychologist or social worker will provide loved ones with guidance for motivating veterans to seek support.
  • Sharing stories of hope and recovery from VA’s Make the Connection.
  • Reaching out to the veterans in your life to show them you care by sending a check-in text, cook them dinner or simply asking, “How are you?”
  • Using the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Coach App (available on most smartphones) that provides support for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Veterans can also create a suicide safety plan inside the app.

For more information and resources visit BeThereForVeterans.com.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Reporters covering this issue can download VA’s Safe Messaging Best Practices fact sheet or visit Reporting On Suicide for important guidance on how to communicate about suicide, or contact Rosalia Scalia to interview Nikole Jones and other members of the Suicide Prevention Team.
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The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to veterans at three medical centers and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 veterans from various generations receive care from VAMHCS annually. Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, VAMHCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a veteran can do. To enroll for VA health care, interested veterans can call 877-222-8387 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or they can visit http://www.va.gov and clinic on “Apply now for VA health care.”

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Rosalia Scalia
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