San Francisco VA Health Care System
Suicide Prevention Month
Suicide is a major public health concern and can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic background. Our community of Veterans is no exception — in 2015, an average of 20 Veterans died from suicide each day.
Suicide is a complex issue, particularly for Veterans who might be facing an array of stressful life events and mental, physical, and emotional challenges. Knowing how to approach seeking treatment, providing treatment, or even just engaging in the conversation can potentially save a life.
During September, which marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and year-round, we would like to remind everyone that suicide IS preventable. As a community, we all have a role in supporting our Veterans, but oftentimes, as individuals, we may not know what to do or where to start.
Rest assured that you don’t need to have special training to support the Veterans in your life, and we can all do something to help a Veteran who is going through a difficult time. Even seemingly small actions can have a huge impact: Preventing suicide begins with just the willingness to Be There. #BeThere
Letting a Veteran friend or loved one know you’re concerned about him/her may seem daunting, but know you can make a difference by starting a conversation. The most important thing is to show genuine, heartfelt support for someone going through a tough time and being there to help. You don’t need to make a grand gesture: A simple act of kindness shows you care. You can call up an old friend, check in on a neighbor, cook someone dinner, or invite a colleague on a walk. You can also encourage Veterans to take time for themselves and to focus on their own health and wellness. Your kindness could be exactly what a Veteran in crisis needs, and could be a reminder of the many people out there who care.
If you are worried about a Veteran who may be at risk for suicide, here are some ways to connect him/her to treatment and support:
- Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Caring, qualified VA responders can help you determine ways to keep someone safe and connect the Veteran you care about with support.
- Chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255
- Talk with the Veteran’s friends. Peer support, especially from others who have military experience, can be crucial in helping someone open up.
- If you need advice on how to motivate someone to seek help, contact the Coaching into Care program, 1-888-823-7458.
Additional mental health services at the San Francisco VA Health Care System:
- San Francisco VA Medical Center Emergency Department, Ground Floor, Building 200
- Contact your primary care provider for a referral to mental health services.
- Call the Mental Health Access Center and schedule an intake. 415-221-4810, ext. 2-4824
- Drop in to the Mental Health Same-Day Clinic. Open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday - Friday, San Francisco VA Medical Center, Building 203, Ground Floor, GA 28 Reception.
For more information, visit VeteransCrisisLine.net/BeThere to learn how you and others in your community can Be There to prevent suicide, and download materials you can share at VeteransCrisisLine.net/SpreadTheWord.