VA is launching national advertising to promote the Be There campaign, starting this week with an advertisement in Times Square and then rolling out nationwide in the coming weeks through a new partnership with PSA Advertising Inc.
Suicide prevention is the top clinical priority for VA, and raising awareness of the resources and information available to Veterans is a key component of VA’s public health approach to preventing suicide. Through the Be There campaign, VA highlights the risk factors and warning signs for suicide, provides information about VA mental health and suicide prevention resources, and helps individuals and organizations start the conversation around Veteran mental health in their communities.
“We recognize that suicide is a complex issue — one that we cannot necessarily end on our own here at VA,” said Wendy Lakso, acting deputy suicide prevention program director for VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “We need everyone to understand how to be there for the Veterans in their lives.”
Through the partnership with PSA Advertising, VA will gain access to available billboard placements across the country. At the launch of this effort, VA will place ads in the top 100 largest markets to promote both Be There and the Veterans Crisis Line.
VA will also roll out market- and audience-specific advertisements to reach target populations in communities beyond the largest markets. Using data on relevant topics such as firearm ownership, opioid use, Veteran population density and more, VA will identify messages that reflect each community’s specific challenges and potential risk factors and feature Veterans who mirror the local population.
“By promoting the Be There campaign broadly, we aim to reach not only Veterans, but also their family members, friends and other supporters in their communities,” said Lakso. “Our goal is to prevent suicide among Veterans nationwide. To do that, we need to do as much as possible to ensure that everyone knows the role they can play in suicide prevention.”
We can all #BeThere for Veterans. Guided by the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, VA and its partners are helping Veterans and former service members get the right care whenever they need it. By equipping communities with resources and services, VA and its partners can reach all Veterans and former service members and can save lives. Additional resources for supporting Veterans and their loved ones, community partners, and clinicians can be found at www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/resources.asp.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
About the author: Aaron Eagan is the deputy director, operations and integration for suicide prevention, for VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.