The 2018 Suicide Data Report released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Suicide Prevention showed that, across the country, the suicide rates increased for both veterans and non-veterans, underscoring the fact that suicide is a national public health concern that affects people everywhere. Everyone can play a role in helping to reduce these numbers.
Not all veterans in crisis will show signs of intent to harm themselves, but some will show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and/or hopelessness, such as:
· Appearing sad or depressed most of the time.
· Feeling anxious, agitated, or having trouble with sleeping/sleeping all the time.
· Neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance.
· Withdrawing from friends, family, and society.
· Losing interest in hobbies, work, school, or other things one used to care about.
· Frequent and dramatic mood changes.
· Feelings of excessive guilt or shame.
· Feelings of failure or decreased performance.
· Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose.
· Feeling trapped/desperate—like there is no way out of a situation, no solution.
Behavior may be dramatically different from their normal behavior. They may appear to be thinking about or preparing for suicide through behavior such as:
· Recklessness, engaging in risky activities, appearing to have a ‘death wish’.
· Showing violent behavior — punching holes in walls, getting into fights; expressing rage or uncontrolled anger.
· Giving away prized possessions.
· Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will.
· Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself.
Help is available. You are not alone. If you sense a problem, be direct.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Veteran Crisis Hotline. If you are a veteran in crisis or know one who is, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and Press 1 for immediate phone support and to confidentially speak with a trained VA responder and get connected to services that can make a difference.
Community Mental Health Centers. In every New Hampshire county, there is a community mental health center which now has a military liaison. The CMHCs have received extensive training, growing their expertise in working with New Hampshire’s veteran population.
RealWarriors.net. Real Warriors, Real Strength. The Real Warriors Campaign is an initiative launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) to promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families.
Easterseals NH Military & Veterans Services (MVS) offers care coordination to veterans of all eras, from World War II veterans to those who are currently serving. Services are free, confidential, and provided locally — in the veteran’s home or other convenient location. Care coordinators are community caseworkers with extensive training in military culture. Their job is to do whatever it takes to help service members, veterans, and their families thrive. Care coordinators help those in crisis situations, and are also available to help families plan ahead and avoid problems when facing life changes and challenges.
Veterans Count, the philanthropic program of ESNH MVS, provides emergency financial assistance to veterans for critical and unmet needs. Veterans Count raises awareness about the challenges that can result from military service and raises money to help address these needs. To learn more about Veterans Count or to make a donation, visit vetscount.org or mail your donation to Veterans Count, Easterseals NH, 555 Auburn St., Manchester, NH 03103.
If you know a service member, veteran, or military family in need, contact the program coordinator, Easterseals NH Military and Veterans Services, at 603-315-4354.