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Suicide Prevention

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Warning Signs

Many people experience emotional and mental health crises every day. For service members and veterans, their experiences in military service can exacerbate these crises to a point of no return. Learn to recognize these warning signs:

  • Feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety, agitation, and mood swings
  • Anger
  • Participation in risky activities
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Withdrawal from friends and family

If the following signs are present, immediate attention is required:

  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Talking about death or suicide
  • Thinking about hurting or killing yourself
  • Looking for ways to kill yourself

If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is experiencing any of these signs, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. This help is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365.

Some Myths & Realities:

Myth: Asking about suicide can plant the idea in the person’s head.

Reality: The act of asking the question simply gives the vet permission to talk about their feelings and thoughts. It does not create suicidal thoughts.

Myth: There are talkers, and then there are doers.

Reality: Most people who commit suicide have communicated some intent prior to doing so. Someone who talks about it is giving you an opportunity to intervene.

Myth: If someone really wants to die, there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Reality: Most ideas of suicide are the result of treatable disorders. Helping someone to find a safe place for treatment can save their life. You can make a difference in promoting a positive outcome.

Myth: The person won’t really commit suicide because they…

  • have young children
  • made vacation plans
  • promised not to

Reality: The intent to die can override any rational thinking. Any thought or mention of suicide must be taken seriously.

Specific Risks for Veterans

  • Deployment to hostile environments
  • Frequent deployments
  • Exposure to extreme stress
  • Length of deployments
  • Physical/sexual assault while in the service (not limited to women)
  • Service-related injury