How To Save A Vet's Life: Pay Attention, Be Direct And Remove Guns
Remove the guns.
That is one of the best first steps to save the life of a depressed veteran, according to one psychologist who works with veterans.
"Removing firearms is by far one of the most effective ways in preventing suicide," said Dr. Iman Williams Christians. Williams Christians is a psychologist and director of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at the Up Center in Virginia Beach.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and suicide itself is a particular hazard for people who have served in the military. It occurs twice as much among vets compared to civilians, Williams Christians said. And according to statistics compiled by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, 70% of veteran suicides are by firearms.
Williams Christians said preventing suicide means noticing warning signs.
A person's mood could change. There could be substance abuse, lack of sleep, disengagement from activities. They could give away valuables or make statements about their hopelessness online. (The National Alliance On Mental Illness has more red flags and risk factors.)
If you suspect someone you care about might be thinking of suicide, you should ask directly.
"A lot of people are afraid to use that word," she said, "but that is the best word. They're thinking about it anyway. It's not like you're encouraging them to think about suicide."
After you've talked and removed firearms and other hazards, you should get them help as quickly as possible.
The Veterans Crisis Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are at the same number: 1-800-273-8255.