Tips and Resources for Suicide Prevention Month

Service member suicide rates have been historically high for the past several years. Aside from the alarming number of service member suicides is the concern that many military families have experienced repeat exposures to exceptionally high stress over the past 12 years. Anecdotal stories suggest those stresses are leading to military family member suicides. While the number of family member suicides are not currently being tracked, we suspect that the number of military spouses and children in crisis has increased as well. We have called on Congress and the Defense Department to track and report on military family member suicides.

With disheartening information like this, the National Military Family Association is dedicated to providing resources that may be useful in helping someone who is struggling. Tackling the new and unfamiliar can be difficult. Here are two resources that explain what to expect if you reach out for behavioral health assistance for yourself or someone you care about:

  • Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line - No matter how you contact the Military Crisis Line, you will be connected with a trained professional who is knowledgeable about military culture. Whether someone is feeling suicidal, depressed or anxious, or dealing with pressure from finances or relationship problems, the Military Crisis Line will stay with you as long as it takes to make you feel comfortable and develop a plan. They will also help to direct you to resources that can help you once you end the call. The service is anonymous and confidential and responders will only ask for identifying information if you need additional help, and even then, it is completely up to the caller whether they want to provide that information. All services are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Contacting the Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line is easy:

    • By phone: 1-800-273-8255, press Option #1 to connect to a live responder

    • By text message: send text message to 838255

    • By online chat

  • Defense Suicide Prevention Office’s guidebook, “Supporting Military Families in Crisis” - Written specifically for families, this guidebook provides background information on suicide, risk factors, resources, and building resiliency. It also provides practical information on what getting help looks like. Many military families have no experience seeking behavioral health care and don’t know what to expect. And, there are differences between seeking behavioral health care and seeking traditional medical care. One of those differences is outlined heavily in this resources; the process of choosing a therapist. If you’ve never participated in counseling, here are some tips:

    • Just because you don’t connect with the first therapist you meet, this doesn’t mean that counseling isn’t an option.

    • Finding a therapist that works for you and your family is similar to dating: Sometimes you know right away that it’s not a good fit. Other times you might not be sure, so you give it another chance.

    • Although it can be draining to explain your background and situation to more than one person, it is worthwhile if it means you eventually find someone who can help you.

      During suicide prevention month, we ask all military families to become familiar with these important resources should you or someone you love need help.

During suicide prevention month, we ask all military families to become familiar with these important resources should you or someone you love need help.

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