Military Press Release focuses on connections for Suicide Awareness Month

Release: 19-VA-2
September 18, 2019

A World Free of Veteran Suicide by Empowering Connections    

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — September is Suicide Awareness Month. Imagine a world free from suicide. A world where no Service Member or Veteran takes their own life. How do we get there? What does it take to build that world?

We can all play a role in preventing suicide, but many people don’t know what they can do to support the local Veterans, Service members, Guard or Reserve members or their families.

The best way we can reverse this tragedy is through knowledge. Be aware of the risk factors for someone contemplating suicide, whom to contact, and what to do to assist one of our service members or veterans in need.

Common Risk Factors and Warning Signs:

  • Unable to adjust into the community or find work – Not getting along with life-long friends and family members, lacking the desire to enjoy previous hobbies (ie: camping, fishing, hunting) or unable to hold permanent employment.
  • Sleeping issues – Cannot sleep at night.  The Veteran “self-medicates” with medications, drugs, or alcohol to sleep.
  • Lack of motivation and energy – Functioning requires drugs, copious amounts of caffeine, nicotine, and other amphetamines.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury/Post Traumatic Brain Injury – Any traumatic brain injury and post traumatic injuries whether diagnosed or not.
  • Depression – Sad, lethargic, lacking energy to communicate or function normally.
  • Substance abuse or “self-medicating” – Alcohol is needed to sleep. To awaken requires excessive caffeine, and illegal drugs, or other stimulants. One third of all suicides occur when the Veteran has been drinking or doing drugs.
  • Major life stressor – Most suicide attempts in the Veteran community occur roughly within two weeks after a major life stressor. For instance: loss of a family member, home, marriage, or job.  The majority of suicides center around financial or relationship issues.

“One of the best ways to help is listen. It is difficult sometimes to just listen without providing guidance but in reality, being heard helps ease the tensions in life. Reach out to an old friend. A friendly face and just letting them know you are still there could affect their decisions,” said Verdie Bowen, Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs. “Remember, this epidemic is not going to get better until we all take an active role. There is power in connection.”

The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis, and/or their families and friends with qualified, caring VA staff through a toll-free hotline (1-800-273-8255 (Talk), and press 1) or or text 838255. The person doesn’t need to be enrolled in the VA in order to receive help contact the VA.

“If you just want to stop by my office for a cup of coffee that’s ok as well. It’s free and either I or my staff will be more than pleased to speak with you. For directions to the office or if you just want to talk, give us a call our phone number is 907-334-0874 or toll-free 1-888-248-3682. I believe together we can change veterans’ suicide one connection at a time,” said Bowen.