VA staff’s instant action prevents a Veteran suicide

Veteran casually mentioned suicide plans at routine appointment


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It’s not often that we talk about suicide in terms of lives saved, but recently, the Cleveland VA team saved a Veteran from ending his life.

He came in for his medical appointment for treatment just like any other day. During a casual conversation with a VA team member, he shared his plan for suicide. He had lost hope and didn’t feel he had anything more to offer.

The VA team member wasn’t a mental health provider, a nurse or a doctor, but is a compassionate VA employee who knew how to #BeThere. The VA team member immediately engaged members of the Veteran’s treatment team.

In the photo above, Cleveland VA’s lifesaving team includes (from left) Jose Rivera (ED nurse manager), Kimberly Miller (infusion clinic nurse), Jennifer Davis (dietitian), Erin Valenti (infusion clinic nurse manager), Alexandra Murray (psychiatry intern) and Rocco Burke (police officer).

They showed compassion and talked with the Veteran about his needs and together, then they developed a plan that helped him feel safe.

Every member of the VA team flawlessly executed their role to save this Veteran’s life. They got him to the emergency department and, eventually, to the psychiatric assessment and observation center for further treatment.

Compassionate, dedicated and responsive

“Safety is always my top priority. I am glad the VA has such compassionate, dedicated and responsive resources to ensure a Veteran’s safety at such times,” said Susan P. Berman, VA psychologist.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. We ALL have the power to end Veteran suicide. Preventing suicides doesn’t require special training. It means showing you care, reaching out to Veterans and knowing the warning signs of suicide.

Many common risk factors for suicide are treatable. As a community, we can #BeThere and save Veterans lives through stories of hope and recovery.

Call the Crisis Line for confidential suicide prevention support

If you are a Veteran in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, call the Veterans Crisis Line. Confidential support is available 24 hours a day, seven 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.

You also can contact VA’s Coaching Into Care program if you are worried about a Veteran loved one. A licensed psychologist or social worker will provide guidance on motivating your loved one to seek support.

Thank you to our VA team members who work each day to keep our Veterans healthy and safe.

Author

Kristen Parker

joined VA in June 2013 as a senior public affairs specialist for the National Cemetery Administration. She is originally from Pittsburgh and earned a degree in Public Communications from American University in Washington. Before coming to VA, Kristen spent the first 10 years of her professional career working on media and community relations projects for the U.S. Army at the headquarters, major command and installation levels. She enjoys coaching and taking CrossFit classes in her free time, and “I love being able to do good things for good people through my work with the VA.”

Comments

  1. Beniamino Angelo Lucciola    

    I am an 82 year old homeless, disabled veteran who has been trying for many years to get an increase in my compensation benefits. They keep telling me that I can find, “meaningful employment.” Where the hell is an 82 year old veteran with neuropathy, arthritis, a balance problem, a hearing loss, and vision problems going to find a job? Believe it or not I send out resumes daily. I walk with a cane and have to wear a life alert button because I fall a lot. I was made homeless by corrupt lying cops from Stafford who fabricated a story and had me kicked out of my house. I was then assaulted by a 350 pound bimbo drug addict who broke into my house and attacked me. The misfit cops did nothing about it, and in fact accused me of the assault. I was arrested after I went to collect my rent deposit because I argued with the manager who refused to pay me. Her worker a young guy of 33 and 6 feet 7 inches tall attacked me and was shoving me all over the office. The female tramp manager was yelling over the phone with the police that I was attacking the young guy. They then arrested me and locked me up, charging me with attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. When they released me, I packed my bag, borrowed money from my brother and flew to Cambodia. The stupid cops then issued a warrant for my arrest and came to Cambodia to kidnapped. I was held in Cambodian detention for 17 days where I lost over 40 pounds only eating a bowl a rice a day. The Marshals took me back to the states and held me again for over 5 months. I was charged in two different courts; the Superior court in Toms River where I was coerced into taking a plea. I got one year probation and had to pay over $1000. in fines and cost. The other kangaroo court was held in the Peyton Place of a town,Stafford where I argued with the judge that I did nothing wrong. He had a report from the lying cop stating, that I told him that I was swinging a rock over my head at the 6 foot 7 inch guy. There was no deadly weapon in the court so the idiot judge dropped that and then accused me of being a disorderly person. The young guy and his tramp boss got away with lying and I had to pay another heavy fine. I had / have no money and no place to live so I am in a shelter or called a rooming home for $600.00 a month. My wife had a stroke when I was overseas and I have no idea how she and our grandson are getting along. No one gives a damn, so why the hell go on.? I DID NOTHING WRONG. THE COPS ARE SICK LIARS AND I AM SURE GOD WILL GET THEM ONE DAY.

  2. Steven Rubeck    

    Did this guy get proposed incompetent? This is such a double edged sword that keeps other Veterans from actually reporting issues like this. Not to mention state reporting that affects their ability to have a driver’s license.

  3. JC    

    I have chronic pain and severe depression, few attempts and 4 hospitalizations. Chronic pain is a huge factor in mental health but the primary care providers that are suppose to help with controlling pain do not. The one medication to take the edge off the pain happens to be an opioid Tylenol 3. I am not addicted to it, and actually take less than prescribed most days, but due to recent suicide attempt I have to suffer in pain for 3 months because the VA punishes people with a High risk FLAG that denies them the medications they need as a punishment. I doubt I can make it 3 months to get rid of this punishment flag so I can get a bit of relief. The opioid contracts they make you sign is part of the punishment process that they do not give you a copy of and because of depression, PTSD, medications are off and end up in hospital they make you suffer.

  4. Naijanice    

    Wow my love for veterans.. I always love to help them out in a way I can… It makes them feel great.

  5. James Shipley    

    Maybe if the VA kept the promises they made to vetrains it would different. I served and was poisoned with agent orange and even though they admit I was poisoned I have refused the benefits I earned and have been told it will take 7 years to appeal the refusal. I will dead by then and they know that which is what they are doing…killing us! Suicide just saves them the trouble of cheating us.

  6. S M Wallace    

    Great that this V.A. helped a vet who was going to commit suicide. Unfortunately this is not the reality of the V.A. At my V.A. hospital there is a big lack of enough mental health providers and the few who are here either quit because of the workload or they get pulled away from doing therapy and counseling to do administrative work so the vets they “help” can’t see them as often as they may need to.
    This is NOT caring about veterans. Other issues abound too, like telling all veterans they have to sign in for their appointments on a kiosk. Really?? Veterans are being treated like so much meat in a butcher shop, just another number. No wonder they are committing suicide when the all important HUMAN CONTACT is missing. When you have human contact with a secretary to check in or out you build a rapport with another human being which is essential to any person’s mental well being. It helps the veteran to feel like they really are important and worth bothering with. And, just so that there is no mistake, forcing veterans to check in on a kiosk, which is NOT good at maintaining privacy of personally identifiable information, is the V.A. VIOLATING their obligations under 45CFR to protect veterans PII or in more civilian terms V.A. VIOLATING HIPAA.!!!

  7. Christina    

    Dear whoever cares,
    Someone needs to hear my story before my time runs out…signed a 20 year retired Navy Veteran!

    1. Army Guy    

      As a fellow veteran, I care about you! Hang in there, stay strong, and focus on what it will be like when you make it through this difficult time, I am with you.

  8. Judith Yarbrough    

    Happy for this Vet. Colorado Springs VA simply calls you to tell you “go ahead and kill yourself, nobody wants you around”.
    Very very few veterans get respectful, good care. And it’s an effing shame. Haven’t darkened the VA’s doorstep since.
    Thanks for that. Done .

  9. Michael lee jones sr    

    Va cares how
    I been saying that for years and helping vets
    But now when I need support and help I get that’s not right but we can’t help .
    This is my problem I am retired in 96, I have 100% disability from va I get my social security disability and can not work .
    After 41 years I wanted to take a active interest in my banking and bills a week later I was serviced with divorce papers in 2016 in 2018 I have no Heart burn with giving up 50% of my dod pay and taking on all debts owned but the the judge knowing the only source of money I have coming is I va check and my social security check he stated he could not touch the funds but if was up to me to pay $1566.00 for life plus keep whole life ins on me for my ex and did not care we’re the money came from but if I did pay he would take my freedom and jail me so now I live on about 400.00 or so a month and everyone says that’s not legal but can’t find anyone to state up and back me up.and this is why I serviced my country for I refuse to harm myself or be homeless I need help this is not right

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