VA mental health-care professionals and responders work every day to help Vets with mental health issues – sometimes even talking them down when they are in crisis. Understanding what these dedicated men and women, many of them Veterans themselves, do on a daily basis makes it difficult to look at a simple tweet as a potential lifesaver.
You might ask how information can make a difference in a person’s life when everything around him or her seems to be falling apart. Since starting this job I’ve been asked that question several times in one form or another. While the question is legitimate, the fact remains that before Veterans can be asked to trust and visit a program they first have to know it exists.
It’s not always easy to find a correlation between a tweet or Facebook post and a Veteran calling the Veterans Crisis Line, but people are more connected through social media than ever before. Information may take time to turn into action, but getting it to Veterans and loved ones – who usually encourage their Vet to seek help – is our priority.
Throughout September, we joined others to focus on suicide prevention and mental health by getting the word out on programs like the crisis line. Thanks to dedicated followers and partners like American Legion, DAV and Joining Forces, this combined outreach effort for Suicide Prevention Month gives a lifeline toVeterans looking for assistance.
And the outreach continues beyond September. This year’s theme, “It Matters,” emphasizes the people, relationships and experiences that matter to Veterans and their loved ones, reinforcing their personal connections and giving their lives hope and meaning. To spark conversation about the difficult topics of suicide risk and prevention, VA unveiled the photo-sharing campaign, “Show Us What Matters,” inviting Veterans and their loved ones to upload photos of the special people in their lives.
So as we close out September, remember to keep reaching out to Veterans in crisis. Preventing Veteran suicides is a daily undertaking for thousands of VA mental health care professionals and our partners. Sharing and retweeting can seem as if it’s not enough when we lose Veterans every day, but getting information to those in need is worth it if even one person is saved.