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Stand for the Silent: New VA campaign to prevent veteran suicide

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In our continued mental health awareness series, Stand for the Silent: A story, a moment, an impact – we’re continuing our coverage on suicide prevention.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has a new campaign to improve the health and well-being of veterans.

It’s called ‘Be There,' and was designed to let people know that suicide prevention starts with one simple act of support.

“We want the nation to know that we want their help and their partnership as we try to save veterans lives,” said Dr. Keita Franklin, executive director of the U.S. Dept. of VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “We think that showing veterans in your life that you do care actually contributes to saving lives, and so it’s everyday small acts that matter. One of the most important things people can do is get to know your veterans in your community. Then you can take them out for coffee, ask them how they’re doing, and just be a support to veterans throughout life.”

Dr. Franklin says there are a number of warning signs that a veteran is in danger, including isolation, not acting like themselves, being quick to anger, and engaging in risky behaviors like using drugs or excessive drinking.

The VA says it is working to expand available mental health services and suicide prevention resources and to connect at-risk veterans with care and support.

“Here at the VA, we’re engaged in a number of activities to try to make sure we’re fostering the health and mostly trying to offer care – direct access to care so we have same day access to mental health care, substance abuse treatment care, we have care at our vet centers and our community based outreach clinics across the map,” Dr. Franklin said.

Because, as the VA says, even one veteran suicide is one too many.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help – call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Or, call 9-1-1.

For more information on veteran mental health services, go to bethereforveterans.com.

There is a resource locator by zip code that connects veterans in need with the local services available for them.

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