Suicide is a national public health concern that affects all Americans, including Veterans, their families and their friends.
At the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we recognize Suicide Prevention Month each September to raise awareness of Veteran suicide prevention and connect Veterans with resources to prevent suicide.
Resources for Veterans
Resources are available 24/7 at every VHA healthcare facility in the country to help Veterans seeking clinical care, counseling, assistance with benefits, local and national tools and resources.
Our behavioral health providers and suicide prevention care team at the Lebanon VA Medical Center and staff at our five VA community clinics can quickly get Veterans the support they need. VA also collaborates with private providers and community organizations to assist Veterans who are managing emotional or mental health crises.
I encourage our partners in private healthcare to connect with us and be a force multiplier to help Veterans receive ongoing VA support, like counseling and other services.
Community healthcare partners and providers can contact our local Suicide Prevention Coordinator John J. Lucas, 717-272-6621 ext. 4366 or John.Lucas@va.gov to explore how VA can support your efforts.
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects any Veteran or their loved ones to a real person, specially trained to support Veterans, any time, any day:
- Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
- Text a message to 838255
- Chat or text online at veteranscrisisline.net.
How can the general public make a difference?
Together, we can help prevent Veteran suicide. I ask each of you to commit to doing any or all of these five actions:
- Connect with a Veteran: Show you care by making a call or sending a text or email to a Veteran you may know. If you send a text/email, you can write something as simple as: “How’s everything going? I’m here for you if you want to talk.” Just showing your presence and interest is often enough to begin a healthy conversation.
- Listen to Veteran stories: Veterans are strong, driven, and resilient. Even the best of us need help sometimes. More than 600 Veterans and family members have shared their stories of finding support and overcoming challenges. Check out some of these powerful videos at: MakeTheConnection.net.
- Be prepared and learn more about suicide prevention: Learn how to spot warning signs of an emotional or mental health crisis. Learn how to support a Veteran who may be at risk for suicide. Know how to access mental health and suicide prevention resources. Save the Veterans Crisis Line number in your wireless devise 1-800-273-8255 or text message to 838255 for when you need it most.
- Find additional resources: Visit Take a Moment — Reach Out (va.gov) to find support near you. Just enter a zip code for a range of acute care and outpatient services.
- Spread the word: You don’t need to be an expert to help make a difference. Forward this information to a friend or another family member to raise awareness.
An equipped community is a force multiplier. The more we know, the better we can help and support each other.
Thank you for helping prevent Veteran suicide.
Robert W. Callahan, Jr. is Executive Director of the Lebanon VA Medical Center.