September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Officials have designated the month of September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young adults, reports the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And that rate is even higher among our veterans.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans accounted for 18 percent of all suicide deaths in 2014.
The suicide rate among veterans has risen by 32 percent since 2001. Veterans are 21 percent more likely to commit suicide than civilians. Officials believe several factors contribute to the high rates:
- Mental health issues
- Employment challenges
- Difficulty reintegrating into society
- Substance abuse
The VA has taken numerous steps to research and identify new ways to reach out to at-risk veterans and help bring the rate down. Some of the preventative measures the VA offers include:
- Toll-free Veterans Crisis Line (VCL)
- Suicide prevention coordinators at all VA Medical Centers
- Same-day health care access for veterans with urgent mental health concerns (the VA plans to have this access at more than 1,000 VA facilities by the end of 2016)
- Preventative modeling to determine a veteran’s risk of a suicide attempt
- Expanded telemental health care
- More than 60 new crisis intervention responders for the VCL
- Stronger inter-agency and public-private partnerships for suicide prevention
Throughout the month, the VA will hold roundtable discussions focused on the development of a public health strategy for preventing a further increase in veteran suicides.
Additionally, REACH VET, a program that aims to identify high-risk veterans in the veterans’ health care program and provide care before a crisis occurs, will launch this month.
There are also a few social media campaigns dedicated to raising awareness as well as getting vets in touch with local mental health resources.
Disability Can Contribute to Suicide, Know When to Ask for Help
The Disability Help Group is a trusted advocate for disabled veterans and their right to recover benefits from the VA. If you suffer from a service-connected disability, including mental health conditions, you may be eligible for additional benefits through the VA.
Contact us at 800-800-2009 to schedule a free consultation with one of our disability advocates.