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Suicide Warning Signs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides the following suicide warning signs

  • Talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Trying to get pills, guns, or other ways to harm oneself
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting in a reckless or risky way
  • Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out
  • Saying or feeling there’s no reason for living  

For more on mental health services at the Dept of Veterans Affairs, click here or call the VA’s suicide hotline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

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 

For a wallet-size card titled “What to do you if you think someone is having suicidal thoughts,” click here.


Where to Get Help:
 

Hotline for Veterans
Veterans who need immediate counseling should call the hotline run by Veterans Affairs professionals at 1-800-273-TALK and press 1 identifying themselves as military veterans. Staff members are specially trained to take calls from military veterans and its staffed 24 hours a day, everyday. While all operators are trained to help veterans, some are also former military.

Clinical Care
To find a VA facility closest to you with mental health professionals, log on to this Web site and type in your zip code.