Suicide is a national problem. The rates among Veterans are 1.5 times higher and continue to rise. Changes in a Veteran’s behavior or moods could be a sign they are in crisis.
Having a simple, supportive conversation with someone can make a big difference if they’re going through a challenging time – but sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why knowing the VA S.A.V.E. method is important. These steps will teach you when to reach out and how to compassionately act if you encounter a Veteran who is suicidal.
Signs of suicidal thinking should be recognized:
Ask the most important question:
Validate the Veteran’s experience:
Encourage treatment and Expedite getting help:
Although some Veterans might not show clear signs of suicidal behavior or self-harm, they are more likely to answer direct questions when asked about their intentions. This may feel extreme, but it is important to remember that asking someone if they’re having suicidal thoughts will not give them the idea or increase the risk. If a Veteran’s emotional struggles and health challenges are leading to thoughts of suicide, a conversation could save their life.