HOW TO HELP A VETERAN OR ACTIVE-DUTY SERVICE MEMBER WHO IS SUFFERING.
It can be difficult to know how to help someone who doesn’t ask for help and/or doesn’t seem to want help. One thing you have to do is face it head on. Don’t be afraid to ask if the Veteran or Soldier is suicidal or has had thoughts of suicide. And let them know THERE IS HELP. They can get better and there is NOTHING to feel ashamed about.
PTS, TBI, physical wounds, and transitioning back home after deployment take their toll on Soldiers and Veterans. Feeling alone in a foreign land, away from family and friends can cause depression. Fears of speaking up to COs or even family cause silent suffering.
Turning to alcohol or drugs can often become the option for calming the anxiety and scenes playing in a Veteran’s head. Then something happens that tips the scale toward suicide. A relationship ends. A job can’t be found. Bills pile up. It can be almost anything. But the feeling is one of not belonging and being a burden on family and society.
This is the crucial time for getting help. And for knowing about organizations like Stop Soldier Suicide. A place to turn that won’t judge. We’re fellow warriors who understand.
Because it’s now known that suicidal ideations are transient. Not lasting.
If you can support and help someone through a time when they might feel disconnected or a burden, you can begin to turn them around.
THE A.C.E. FRAMEWORK CAN HELP YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO. (ASK, CARE, ESCORT)
ASK the Veteran or Active-duty Service member about suicidal thoughts
- Have the courage to ask if your warrior is having thoughts of suicide, but stay calm.
- Ask the question directly: Are you thinking of killing yourself?
(Know the signs for concern listed to the right.)
CARE for the Veteran or Active-Duty Service member
- Stay calm and safe — do not use force.
- Understand that your friend/loved one is probably suffering deep emotional pain.
- Remove any objects or tools that pose a danger to the person.
- Actively listen for details about what, where and when they may be planning to take their life.
- Be non-judgmental as you listen, which can help produce relief for the warrior. But do not go down into the depths with them in your conversation. Be positive and helpful.
ESCORT the Veteran or Active-Duty Service member to get help
- Escort the person in need immediately to his or her chaplain (if active duty) or a behavioral health professional.
- Call 911 or the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1 to speak with a trained professional right away. (Many people are scared to call for help, because they fear the person in need wIould be “mad” at them. THIS IS NOT TRUE. YOU MUST TAKE ACTION TO GET HELP.)
- Don’t keep the warrior’s suicidal behavior a secret.
- Never leave the person alone — stay until he/she receives appropriate help.
- Adopting an attitude that you are going to help your loved one may save his or her life.
OUR RESOURCES AND PARTNERS SPAN A HOST OF SUPPORT AND HELP.
We work hand in hand with some of the best resources serving current and past Service members. If someone is in crisis, we will direct them to the VA Crisis Line and counselors. If they are not in immediate danger of harming themselves, we will connect them with the most appropriate help through our network of providers and partners. So no matter what the issue is, we will attempt to find the support needed. See our list of resources.