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National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

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Be Safe Prevent Self-Harm

It is important to recognize signs that you or someone you know may be in crisis.

 

What's Important to Know?

People can experience an emotional or mental health crisis in response to a wide range of situations. A crisis may be triggered by troubles such as problems in personal relationships or loss of a job. A crisis can lead people to consider hurting or even killing themselves (suicide). In general, Veterans are at a higher risk of suicide than civilians.

These warning signs may indicate that someone is in crisis and/or possibly suicidal:

  • Hopelessness, feeling like there's no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Rage or anger
  • Increasing or excessive tobacco, alcohol, or drug abuse
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Expressing feelings of being trapped with no way out
  • Expressing overwhelming guilt or shame

These signs require immediate attention:

  • Thinking about killing yourself
  • Looking for ways to kill yourself
  • Talking about death, dying, or suicide
  • Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, reckless behaviors, weapon use, etc.

If you or someone else is in a serious crisis and feeling suicidal:

  • Seek immediate help from your health care team or the nearest hospital emergency room
  • Call 911
  • Are you thinking about killing yourself?
  • Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
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  • Contact the Veterans Chat Service at www.veteranscrisisline.net
  • During times of crisis or hopelessness, consider removing firearms from the home or using a gun lock or gun safe to make them less accessible

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Want to Know More?

If you want to learn more about how to prevent self-harm, talk with your VA health care team.

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Resources

  • VHA National Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention: www.prevention.va.gov. Go to the Healthy Living tab and choose “Be Safe” and “Manage Stress”
  • Veterans Health Library: www.veteranshealthlibrary.org, search “Prevent suicide”

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