September is Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month and the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center staff wants to remind Veterans and their loved ones through the Be There campaign that small actions can make a big difference to Veterans experiencing difficult times.

During this and every month, the medical center remains committed to spreading awareness of suicide prevention to Veterans and their supporters and connecting them to the resources they need.

The Suicide Prevention Team has continued its mission throughout the pandemic and has been seeing Veterans virtually through secure VA Video Connect and phone visits.

“Our team is available and ready to provide any needed support. We understand that current events can produce a lot of stress and feelings of isolation and anxiety,” said Valerie Ajuonuma, the DC VAMC’s Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator.

Be There suggests several simple actions that can help make a difference for a Veter-an to include:

• Learning about the warning signs of suicide, found on the Veterans Crisis Line website.

• Watching the free S.A.V.E. training video to learn how to respond with care and compassion if someone indicates they are having thoughts of suicide.

• Contacting VA’s Coaching Into Care program where a licensed psychologist or social worker will provide loved ones with guidance for motivating Veterans to seek support.

• Sharing stories of hope and recovery from VA’s Make the Connection.

• Reaching out to the Veterans in your life to show them you care by sending a check-in text, cook them dinner or simply asking, “How are you?”

Ajuonuma encourages Veterans to not put off seeking help. Veterans who normally visit the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center for mental health care, may phone 202-745-8156, and for CBOC patients, phone 202-745-4332, then select the appropriate CBOC location at the prompt.

For more information about the medical center’s Suicide Prevention Program, please visit: https://www.washingtondc.va.gov/WASHINGTONDC/features/Suicide_Prevention_Month_2020.asp

For more information and resources about VA’s Be There campaign, visit BeThereFor-Veterans.com. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention availa-ble 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.