On Sept. 20, VA and AMVETS hosted an #ExploreVA Facebook Live event on suicide prevention to discuss how to support Veterans in need of help. During the event, Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS, and Megan McCarthy, deputy director of Suicide Prevention for VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, discussed the difficulties Veterans and service members face, how to identify and support someone at risk and where to find VA resources and treatment options.
“The most important thing is to be there for the Veteran,” said McCarthy. “We can all make a difference. It’s the small actions—the small acts of kindness that can really help Veterans feel less alone.”
Veterans and service members may have trouble transitioning to civilian life after deployment, reconnecting with family and friends, or relating to people who do not share or understand their military experience.
“When you go to boot camp, you come back and you’re a very different person,” shared Chenelly. “Same thing with deployment—it doesn’t necessarily have to be a combat deployment. Sometimes it’s just being away from your family and normal routine.”
Learn about the warning signs for those in crisis by visiting the Veterans Crisis Line resources page. Recovery is possible. If someone you know is struggling, find out how you can #BeThere to help them feel less alone.
When the conversation ended, VA’s social media team remained online to answer questions from participants and direct them to additional resources. In case you missed it, check out some of the questions and answers below.
Several participants sought information on how to support loved ones and members of their community in crisis:
Some Veterans and their families reached out for help and received information connecting them to immediate resources. If you or a loved one are having thoughts about suicide, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 to talk with someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can also chat online or send a text to “838255.”
Mental health advocates were also interested in VA’s work to end the stigma surrounding suicide:
Participants were interested to learn about factors that may contribute to thoughts of suicide:
Furthermore, Veterans who have used VA benefits shared their experiences:
Thank you to the spokespeople, all Veterans and their supporters who participated in the event! Stay tuned to the ExploreVA events page for information about upcoming events.