During Suicide Prevention Month, VA’s #BeThere campaign reminded us that preventing suicide begins with just the willingness to Be There.
Small actions of support can make a big impact for someone going through a difficult time. This is especially true in the context of Veteran peer support. By providing one another with support and a sense of connectedness, Veterans can support their peers’ overall well-being. They help them feel less alone and empower them to reach out for help if they need it.
Veteran peer support can play a crucial role in strengthening hope, social support and sense of purpose. It can make periods of transition easier. It can help Veterans feel connected to those who’ve had similar experiences before, during and after separation from military service.
You don’t need to be a mental health expert or have special training to show a fellow Veteran that you care. Small, thoughtful acts of support such as calling up an old friend or organizing a meet up among former unit members can help fellow Veterans feel less alone. Posting on social media reminds them that you’re there to listen.
Your words could be just what someone needs
Talking about mental health and suicide can feel difficult, but it’s important to start the conversation. Whether you’re worried about a fellow Veteran you know who is going through a challenging time, want to reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with or just want to check in on a friend, it’s important to take the initiative to Be There.
Your actions and words could be exactly what someone needs to hear. For more information and tips for starting the conversation, visit BeThereForVeterans.com.
Although there is no single solution to suicide, the connection and support we receive from one another matters. Join us this month and year-round by supporting your friends and fellow Veterans.
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.
Matt Miller, Ph.D., MPH, is the acting director of suicide prevention for the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.