National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Be Safe Prevent Self-Harm
It is important to recognize signs that you or someone you know may be in crisis.
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
- Engaging in risky activities without thinking about possible harm
- 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
- Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
- 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
If you want to learn more about how to prevent self-harm, talk with your VA health care team. For more information, go to the VHA Suicide Prevention Web site: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/.