May 25 marked a momentous occasion for the Veterans Crisis Line as VA officially cut the ribbon at its new satellite call center in Topeka, Kansas. With nearly 60 call responders, social service assistants, and support staff, the center joins the VA facilities in Atlanta and Canandaigua, New York, that offer support for Veterans, service members and their family members during times of crisis.
“The new Veterans Crisis Line facility in Topeka represents a positive step forward for VA, one that will increase our capacity to provide 24/7 suicide prevention referrals and support,” said Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd, VA deputy chief of dtaff. “Suicide prevention is VA’s top mental health priority, and the work being done at the Veterans Crisis Line is a vital part of our care for our nation’s Veterans. By adding the Topeka call center, we’ll be able to support the expansion of the Press 7 to directly connect to VCL, now available on all VA medical center initial phone messaging and over 700 Community Based Outpatient Clinics to assist more Veterans each day.”
Beyond providing support at the point of crisis, the Veterans Crisis Line plays a critical role in connecting Veterans with suicide prevention coordinators (SPCs). SPCs engage Veterans and their communities to raise awareness about the mental health and suicide prevention resources provided by VA and community-based providers. SPCs also can work directly with Veterans in crisis to help them access the information and support they need to get through a difficult time.
Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has:
- Answered more than 3.3 million calls, nearly 395,000 chats, and more than 92,000 texts.
- Dispatched emergency services to callers in crisis more than 93,000 times.
- Forwarded more than 478,000 referrals to local SPCs.
VA is committed to providing the support that our nation’s Veterans have earned. If you’re experiencing a crisis or having thoughts of harming yourself, the Veterans Crisis Line can help. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net to get immediate help. More than 500 responders are ready to answer your call, because they believe no Veteran should be without support in a time of need.
About the author: Matthew A. Miller, Ph.D., MPH, is director of the Veterans Crisis Line.