In the Department of Veterans Affairs, suicide is no longer a hush-hush subject.
A veteran who admits that he or she is having trouble coping — and maybe even thinking about ending his or her own life — can find help, not judgment, at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.
Its Suicide Prevention Office, which is just five years old, is dedicated to making sure an at-risk veteran gets the help he or she needs, and then employees follow up as many times as necessary.
But it’s not just VA employees who are charged with this responsibility.
Families, friends and community members can make a difference in the life of a veteran (or any person, for that matter) — simply by listening and being aware of the warning signs. Then, people can let veterans know there’s a free, confidential support system available from the Veterans Crisis Line. The number is (800) 273-8255 (press 1).
Or younger veterans who prefer to chat online can go to www.Veterans
CrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255. The support is there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Veterans who are struggling to cope need to talk about what’s troubling them — not bury negative feelings deeper inside. If you avoid talking about suicidal thoughts, the veteran may experience a greater sense of feeling alone, according to the VA. Some say it’s a relief to talk openly about their feelings.
A suicidal person must be taken seriously and referred to a professional.
Let’s make sure veterans know that confidential support is only a call, click, or text away.