Editor’s note: This is the first of several veteran-related weekly public service announcements the VFW Auxiliary to Post 7829 will share via The Tribune during the month of September. To support the VFW Auxiliary, visit their table from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays at the Monument Hill Farmers Market, 66 Jefferson St., where members will be educating the public on programs and highlighting these September events.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that the total number of suicides among those who have served in the military is 20.6 every day.
Of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty service members, guardsmen and reservists. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 service members who died by suicide in one year.
What are the warning signs of imminent suicide risk?
• Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights — seemingly without thinking
• Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights, or engaging in self-destructive violence
• Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger; or seeking revenge
• Giving away prized possessions, putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
• Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself
How can you help someone in need?
If you notice changes in a veteran’s behavior or moods and you think they might be in crisis, it’s time to respond. The simple act of having a conversation can help save a life. Please understand that asking someone if they are having suicidal thoughts will not give them the idea nor will it increase their risk. By asking “When did you first start feeling like this?” or “Did something happen that made you begin to feel this way?”, you may start a conversation that will help.
Do you need help? Call 1-800-273-8255. This Crisis Line is staffed 24 hours a day, every day; or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net; or send a text message to 838255.
Want to help? Place this number in your phone contacts.
For more information about VA’s mental health resources, visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov.