VA Focuses on Suicide Prevention and Support
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- The Department of Veterans Affairs is mobilizing support to bring attention to suicide prevention month.
Here on the Western Slope, our local VA is doing everything they can to help in this area, and their 24-hour crisis phone line is one element that's proving to be promising.
“It matters when family members notice changes in their veteran, notice changes in themselves and reach out to talk about suicide prevention more openly,” said Sonja Encke, coordinator for suicide prevention at the Grand Junction VA Medical Center. “It allows people to come forward when they are struggling.”
Even though their crisis phone line is far from small, officials say when a veteran is in trouble even one minor act can make a difference.
Since its establishment in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has helped more than 890,000 vets nationally and locally, they're incorporating peer support apprentices, like Erin Shacon, to help engage those looking for help.
“As a veteran myself, I know what its like to feel isolated when you leave the military,” said Shacon. “This crisis line is one way to reach out and meet with someone else.”
With such a high, local veteran population, Shacon says it's important for the community to understand the struggles these veterans are dealing with.
“We are so far from a base that the only outreach that you have is the crisis line and other veterans,” said Shacon.
Officials with the crisis line say they're seeing more veterans open up about their emotions, and making the call for help.
“We are having a culture drift, certainly within the VA with the veterans, in how we are preventing suicide prevention,” said Encke. “We are talking about it everyday.”
You can reach the crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1) and it’s open 24/7.
In order to spark conversation about suicide, officials are encouraging veterans to upload pictures of themselves to their website with their friends and family to “show what really matters.”
Their website is: VeteransCirisLine.net