Partnering to eliminate veteran suicide


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  • Russell E. Lloyd (Photo provided)



"Each day approximately 20 veterans choose to end their own lives. Of those 20 veterans, only six are receiving care through the VA at the time of their death."

As the Director, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, it is my responsibility to assure that all our veterans receive safe, reliable, high quality healthcare, a task which I cannot accomplish alone. Each and every day I rely heavily on the dedicated and professional staff at Wilkes-Barre, and it’s Community Based Outpatient Clinics, to assure that our veterans receive the care that they have so bravely earned.

This Veterans Day, I’d also like to ask for your assistance. Just as I alone cannot treat each and every veteran served by the VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, the Department of Veterans Affairs alone cannot identify each and every veteran in crisis. We need the support of our community partners, stakeholders and family members to assist us in our mission to eliminate suicide among out nation's veterans.

Although emergency services and same day access is widely available for veterans in crisis, each day approximately 20 veterans across the country choose to end their own lives. Of those 20 veterans, only six were receiving care through the VA at the time of their death. As a family member, friend, spouse, or coworker, I ask for your help in identifying those 14 veterans, or any veteran, that may be too proud to ask for help.

The signs and symptoms of suicidal individuals are varied and may include an obsession with death or harming oneself. Individuals in crisis may display wide changes in mood, including hopelessness, depression, and rage, or an increase in addictive, dependent, or risky behaviors. The symptoms may be varied, but trust your instinct. If something just doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to ask the tough question “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

Asking an individual about suicide does not increase the likelihood of an event, but provides the veteran an opportunity to openly discuss their thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to be a trained clinician to demonstrate empathy and compassion or encourage a veteran in distress to seek treatment.

Our veterans were brave enough to serve; I ask that you be brave enough to have the difficult conversations which will help to ensure a veteran in crisis receives the care, intervention and treatment that they may be too proud to request.

If you are a veteran in need or know a veteran that may benefit from assistance, please check out the following resources:

Veterans Crisis Line/Chat/Text

1-800-273-8255, Press 1

http://www.veteranscrisisline.net

Text to 838255

VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

570-830-7033 or 570-830-7034

Each VA Medical Center has a Suicide Prevention Coordinator to make sure veterans receive needed counseling and services resource locator: veteranscrisisline.net/

Make the Connection

MakeTheConnection.net is a one-stop resource where Veterans and their families and friends can privately explore information about physical and mental health symptoms, challenging life events, and mental health conditions. On this site, Veterans and their families and friends can learn about available resources and support. Visit MakeTheConnection.net to learn more.


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