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The third step in the Patriot Project’s plan to end veteran suicide is intervention.
There are a number of myths about suicide. Suicide is not usually unpredictable. In close to 80% of all cases, the suicidal person has given a warning sign. Friends and family members of a veteran who learn of a warning sign should speak to the veteran about receiving immediate help through emergency services or other forms of mental health treatment. Friends and family members can provide supportive listening, empathy and encouragement to develop a safety plan. Safety plans include sources of support, self soothing activities and reasons for living.
The Patriot Projects has developed three veteran participation programs that are designed to encourage Veterans. Please refer to the “Mission/ Programs" section of this website to learn more about these programs.
Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you're unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can't make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.
Ways to start a conversation about suicide:
"I have been feeling concerned about you lately."
"Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing."
"I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately."
Questions you can ask:
"When did you begin feeling like this?"
"Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?"
"How can I best support you right now?"
"Have you thought about getting help?"
What you can say that helps:
"You are not alone in this. I’m here for you."
"You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change."
"I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help."
"When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage."
Respond quickly in a crisis:
If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it's important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.
The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:
- Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
- Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
- Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
- Do you intend to take your own life? (INTENTION)
- If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, DIAL 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.