September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans and the second leading cause of death in the military. The statistics are shocking, but research shows that public awareness, education and treatment are crucial in the prevention of suicide.

Recent findings now document the secondary consequences of being exposed to traumatic events of your comrades, even if you never served overseas. The suicide rate of the National Guard and Reserves has more than doubled.

How can we expect men and women to return to civilian society unmarked by their experiences, by what they’ve seen and been a part of? And more, how can we help them heal?

The American people owe so much to these individuals. Now is the time to play a role in preventing suicide—to reach out in a timely manner to someone at risk, especially current and former service members, and encourage them to trust and seek help.

Here’s what you can do.

When a Veteran is in crisis, even one small act can make a lifesaving difference. Begin the conversation. Start with compassion and listen, without questions. Hear their story, just listen. The telling of a story can be very powerful healing force. “If I had been through what you have, I would probably feel the same way”, can go a long way in starting the process for seeking help.

Encourage a Veteran who is a risk to get help and know where to turn during a suicide related crisis. Remind them that it takes courage to seek help.

Suicide Signs Unique to Veterans:

Experts on suicide prevention say for veterans there are some particular signs to watch for:

  • Calling old friends, particularly military friends, to say goodbye
  • Cleaning a weapon that they may have as a souvenir
  • Visits to graveyards
  • Obsessed with news coverage of the war, the military channel
  • Wearing their uniform or part of their uniform, boots, etc.
  • Talking about how honorable it is to be a soldier
  • Sleeping more (sometimes the decision to commit suicide brings a sense of peace of mind, and they sleep more to withdraw)
  • Becoming overprotective of children
  • Standing guard of the house, perhaps while everyone is asleep staying up to “watch over” the house, obsessively locking doors, windows
  • If they are on medication, stopping medication and/or hording medication
  • Hording alcohol — not necessarily hard alcohol, could be wine
  • Spending spree, buying gifts for family members and friends “to remember by”
  • Defensive speech “you wouldn’t understand,” etc.
  • Stop making eye contact or speaking with others.

Here’s Where to Get Help:

The Military Crisis Line is available 24/7/365

CALL: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1

The following sites all have excellent resources. Most are free and include toll-free numbers, texting, online chat, and email communication options. 

Emergency Services

The National Suicide Prevention/Military and Veteran Lifeline: offers free and confidential support to service members in crisis or anyone who knows a service member who is. The service is staffed by caring, qualified responders from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), many who have served in the military themselves.

Veterans Crisis Line: Since 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 890,000 calls and made more than 30,000 lifesaving rescues. Support is offered through the crisis line, online chat, and text-messaging services for all service members (active, National Guard and reserve) and veterans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by visiting their website at

Military Crisis Line: Support for Service members, their families and friends. Services are available even if members are not registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or enrolled in VA health care.

Oregon Specific Resources

Columbia Cares Oregon Suicide Prevention 

Oregon Lines for Life

Mobile Apps

PTSD Coach: PTSD Coach, provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help with managing the stresses of daily life with PTSD. Tools are based on evidence-based PTSD treatment and range from relaxation skills and positive self-talk to anger management and other common self-help strategies. Users can customize tools based on their preferences and can integrate their own contacts, photos, and music.

This #SuicidePreventionMonth, help #Veterans access the support they’ve earned.

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