The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s top clinical priority is preventing suicide among all Veterans — including those who do not, and may never, seek care within the VA health care system. Life has its challenges for Veterans and those who care for them and as a Veteran or as a caregiver, you don't have to solve them alone. Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention for the Veteran you provide care for. Use this link for Veteran Resources and services: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/index.asp
The S.A.V.E. model (Signs of suicide, Asking about suicide, Validating feelings, Encouraging help and Expediting treatment) is a one- to two-hour gatekeeper training program provided by VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators to Veterans and those who serve Veterans. VA S.A.V.E. training will help you act with care and compassion if you encounter a Veteran who is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts. It is important that caregivers have the tools they need to intervene. S.A.V.E. provides simple steps that anyone can take when talking with Veterans at risk for suicide. VA SAVE Training (pdf)
Lethal Means Safety & Suicide Prevention
Lethal means are objects (e.g., medications, firearms, sharp instruments) that can be used to inflict self-directed violence. Lethal Means Safety (LMS) is an intentional, voluntary practice to reduce one’s suicide risk by limiting access to those lethal means. Individuals who reduce their access to lethal means during times of heightened risk are reducing their risk of dying by suicide, and we want to equip families with lethal means safety materials.
Please review the following resources from VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention:
VA’s Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) mission is to improve care for Veterans with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illnesses, see the resources below:
Suicide Prevention Toolkit
The VA Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Caregivers includes important information about suicide prevention, as well as evidence-based mental health and substance use disorder treatments that can help Veterans recover and meet their goals.
This toolkit also offers resources that anyone can access in the event of a crisis. We also want to help you take care of yourself. Though you may be focused on caring for a Veteran, your own well-being is equally important. This toolkit equips you with information on self-care so that you can obtain additional support when you need it — helping you remain healthy and strong as you provide care.
To combat the national crisis of suicide, VA commissioned Reach Out website for Veterans, caregivers, and families to get support that is designed specifically for their needs. Whether you’re experiencing career or educational challenges, grief or loss, or even feelings of depression or isolation, Reach Out can help. Click here to access help. Don't wait. Reach out.
Family Member or Friend Support
As a family member or friend of a Veteran with mental health challenges, you can play an important role in providing support for their recovery. As you support the Veteran in your life, VA is here to support you. Click here to explore resources about mental health conditions, coping resources to help families and friends, programs and services for Veterans’ families, plus other resources on how loved ones can help, while learning tools to keep yourself strong.