Buddy Check Day is a reminder to reach out and connect with those who served in the military. It helps maintain relationships, a sense of community and is an opportunity to let other veterans know about programs and services that may be useful.
Some veteran friends and family members may be dealing with the difficulties of mental well-being. The Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) Veterans Mental Health Dept. (VMHD) shares the following behavioral signs that someone may be at risk of suicide and steps to take to find counseling and reduce access to lethal means.
- Talking about: Wanting to die, Great guilt or shame, Being a burden to others.
- Feeling: Empty, hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live; Extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage; Unbearable emotional or physical pain.
- Changing behaviors: Making plans or researching ways to die; Withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away important items, or making a will; Taking dangerous risks like driving extremely fast; Displaying extreme mood swings; An increase or decrease in eating or sleeping; Using drugs or alcohol more often.
If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible.
TVC VMHD notes it is important to put time and distance between the at-risk person and their access to lethal means. Reducing access to lethal means of things such medications and firearms can be the pivot point of if a person at risk for suicide lives or dies. Reducing access to lethal means should be talked about with the at-risk person and done with the owner’s permission and respecting their rights. How to hold these conversations and take action is covered by CALM (Counseling on Access to Lethal Means) and AS+K courses. Military Veteran Peer Network members lead some of the courses. Find these courses offered around Texas on the TVC Mental Health Calendar.
“The following are some facts and simple steps to help you, or a loved one, make it safely through a suicidal crisis,” said John Wilson, Air Force veteran and TVC VMHD Community & Faith-Based Program Manager:
- Suicidal crisis can escalate quickly. A person may go rapidly from feeling distressed to having suicidal thoughts to ultimately making an attempt. The impulse to end one’s life and the readiness to actually go through with an attempt are usually short-lived and not a chronic state. The crisis usually fades, but it may flare up from time to time.
- A suicidal crisis is hard to predict, triggered not only by mental health or substance use issues, but often by stress and external events, such as an arrest, argument, or a relationship breakup. So, reduce access to lethal methods such as medications or guns before a suicidal crisis occurs. This step can help save a person’s life.
- If you, or someone you know, is struggling with despair, carrying out some simple steps to reduce access to lethal methods will make the situation safer if suicidal feelings arise. These steps include limiting medications or locking them up and storing firearms for safety. Nearly 7 out of every 10 veteran deaths by suicide are the result of firearm injuries. According to the Veterans Affairs (VA) latest report on veteran suicide, Texas veterans method of suicide with firearms is 75%.
Other resources for veterans in crisis or for those who know a veteran in a crisis include:
Veterans Crisis Line: Available 24/7, Phone 988 and Press 1, or text to 838255, for online chat veteranscrisisline.net
Military Veterans Peer Network (MVPN) – find a peer in your area at https://veteransmentalhealth.texas.gov/military-veteran-peer-network/
The Texas Veterans Commission Veterans (TVC) Veterans Mental Health Department (VMHD) supports the MVPN with training in mental health counseling.
Combined Arms mental wellness services https://www.combinedarms.us/service/mental-wellness/
Counseling and other assistance from organizations supported by TVC Fund for Veterans’ Assistance Grants. Find them by county https://www.tvc.texas.gov/directory/directory-category/grants/
TVC VMHD contacts :
Jessica Del Rio, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Jessica.DelRio@tvc.texas.gov, work cell: 512-560-9469, or
John Wilson, Community and Faith-based Program Manager, email@example.com , work cell (469) 763-1337.