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home : latest news : latest news August 01, 2014


9/16/2013 6:00:00 AM
Internal combat: VA works to decrease veterans' suicide rate
Les Stukenberg/TheDaily Courier, photo illustration
Les Stukenberg/TheDaily Courier, photo illustration
Suicide signs and resources
There are several things to keep in mind when talking with a veteran that may be at risk for suicide. Remain calm and let the veteran do most of the talking. Maintain eye contact, open body language and act with confidence. Be honest - ask the question: "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"

One way to recognize the warning signs of suicide is to remember the term "IS PATH WARM"

The term stands for:

Ideation - threatened or communicated

Substance abuse - excessive or increased

Purposeless - no reason for living

Anxiety - agitation and/or insomnia

Trapped - feeling there is no way out

Hopelessness - believing that the situation will not improve

Withdrawing- from friends, family, society

Anger- rage, seeking revenge

Recklessness- risky acts

Mood changes- depression followed by happiness

There are a number of suicide prevention organizations, crisis centers, and hot lines geared to help veterans at risk of suicide and their family or friends.

Some local and national organizations are:

Northern Arizona Health Care System - 928-445-4860

Military and veteran crisis line - 800-273-8255, press 1

Confidential email chat - VeteransCrisisLine.net

Crisis Line text - 838255

Military OneSource - 800-342-9647

EMPACT Suicide Prevention Center - 480-784-1514

Southern Arizona Mental Health Corporation - 520-617-0043

Defense Suicide Prevention - www.suicideoutreach.org


Tamara Sone
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - With the U.S. Armed Forces designating September as Suicide Prevention Month, the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System is offering a safe environment for veterans who may be battling suicidal thoughts.

Suicide Prevention Coordinator Cheryle Phelan and Suicide Prevention Case Manager Joey Carr help promote awareness and community outreach for the center, 500 Highway 89 in Prescott.

This year's theme, "It Matters," focuses on the people, relationships and experiences important to veterans and their families, reinforcing personal connections and giving veterans' lives hope and meaning.

The center offers patients direct mental health care, monitoring and oversight, Phelan said. Doctors at the center can diagnosis mental health problems and prescribe medication. Patients also can attend a variety of mental health support groups.

Transportation issues are one of the greatest challenges for veterans looking for help from the center, Carr said. "You wouldn't think it would be that difficult to get someone to Prescott, but they are in crisis and it takes money to get here," Phelan said.

The center offers veterans in rural areas and on reservations with no means of transportation the option of seeing a doctor via online conference through the computer. The veteran goes to a prearranged location and meets with a counselor or doctor through an online program similar to Skype.

The center also hosts numerous outreach programs each year for the community.

"We are mandated to do five outreach events a month," Phelan said. "If people get connected to the VA and mental health, they are less likely to complete suicide."

The center offers veterans in crisis three different ways to reach out to the VA for help. Veterans have the option of connecting with a crisis counselor through the telephone, texting or computer chat room. Family members and friends concerned about a veteran also can contact the crisis line for help.

When a veteran in Northern Arizona contacts the crisis line, their information is automatically routed to Phelan and Carr.

"Every morning that I walk in I check the hotline reports," Carr said. "And then we do the follow up. They get a call from me or (Phelan) asking how they are doing, what we can do to help and get them an appointment."

As of March 2013, the Veterans Crisis Line has been able to save 28,000 veterans nationwide from suicide, Phelan said. More than 800,000 calls, 94,000 chats and 7,300 texts have been placed to the line since 2007.

Every VA center in the country has a suicide prevention program and every single VA employee - from the director to office staff - are trained in suicide prevention, Phelan said.

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in February, an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide every day in 2010 - up from 18 per day in 2007.

"Although the exact reasons are not yet known, what seems to be the case is chronic, elevated levels of stress due to more than a decade of high operations and mission requirements," said Dr. Craig Bryan, associate director of the National Center of Veterans Studies at the University of Utah. "The military has been in a constant state of action for over 10 years now, with little opportunity for rest. This may be why we have seen increased suicide rates even among those service members with no deployment history; they are affected by increased stress overall even if they've not been deployed."

Nearly 70 percent of veteran suicides in 2012 were men and women 50 or older, according to the VA's report.

"One of the most glaring issues affecting veterans right now is the insufficient quality of mental health care provided to them outside of the Department of Defense and VA," Bryan said. "If we truly want to curb this problem, it's going to take a concerted effort across both the public and private sectors. And we must all work together to accept nothing but the best from our mental health care community."

In response to an Executive Order given by President Obama, the VA hired 1,600 mental health providers and more than 300 peer-to-peer specialists in an attempt to curb the climbing numbers, according to a statement from the Department of Defense released in June.

The department directed more than 150 of its health care centers across the nation to conduct mental health summits to help identify community-based mental health resources for veterans and their families.






Tragic Truths
Tragic Truths

• Arizona had the 10th-highest number of suicides in the nation - 1,093 - in 2010.

• In 2012, 38,364 people committed suicide in the U.S.

• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

• Twenty percent of U.S. deaths from suicide are veterans.

• Statistics show that in 2012, 22 veterans committed suicide each day.

• Veterans are more likely than the general population to use a gun to commit suicide.

• Thirty-three percent of veteran suicides have a history of previous attempts.



(Sources: National Violent Death Reporting System, VA National Suicide Prevention Coordinator reports and

Department of Defense.)




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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: Dead Sprat

I was diagnosed with PTSD. I deal with it by cramming as much activity into each and every day. I write, paint, fish, and go on strenuous hikes Most importantly, I surround myself with those who don't sit around recalling their service years while they abuse alcohol or drugs. I don't consider a day successful if I don't have time to get everything done that I wanted to do. Stay busy, stay off drugs and alcohol and surround yourself with people who have positive outlooks.

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: That is Gunnery Sergeant to you

No, I would rather he buck up and stop needing any kind of crutch to "deal with it".

Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: To the Gun

You sound angry.

I hesitated before mentioning marijuana, as I didn't want to raise the issue and take take away any constructive efforts toward helping our vets.

The VA's policy may be toward accepting marijuana use in mm states, but I think in action it doesn't work that way. I know a vet that is afraid to admit to using it. They had him on welbutrin to quit smoking tobacco. He didn't like the way it made him feel. If you want to doubt his veracity he was a sniper in Nam. He carries many wounds and marijuana helps to ease him day to day. Using IT is all about 'using it for mental issues'.


You would rather he take a pill that has warnings on it, may make you feel suicidal?


Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013
Article comment by: Welcome Home

Since coming home I've experienced anxiety and depression but have managed to push forward without the aide of any of the drugs that the V.A. has wanted me to take. I don't use marijuana and stopped drinking. It hasn't been easy at times but life isn't easy. I have found that my bond with fellow vets has helped me through the tough times. Soldiers are truly a family and help each other without question. @ Gunnery sergeant Sempere Fi Gunny. Try to lighten up a bit guy. You can't train the world LOL

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: That is Gunnery Sergeant to You

To: Re: Gunnery

Ouch that stung! Why no nanner-nanner-boo-boo?

P.S. I don't drink or smoke, nice try there cupcake!


Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: Re: Gunnery

You have your head buried in the sand, or a bottle.....or some other hole. In any case, pull it out Gunnery!

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: @ take a pill I'll see ya in a month

From the New York Times dated July 23, 2010 -

"DENVER The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.

A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states.

The policy will not permit department doctors to prescribe marijuana. But it will address the concern of many patients who use the drug that they could lose access to their prescription pain medication if caught."

Research BEFORE you make a fool of yourself!


Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: That is Gunnery Sergeant to you

@ take a pill I'll see ya in a month

"Many vets would like to use marijuana to ease their discomfort"

Since when is marijuana prescribed for mental health issues?

You potheads never cease to amaze with the crap you write!


Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: take a pill I'll see ya in a month

A lot of these people are on psychotropic meds with heavy duty side affects, "seek help if you feel suicidal"

If you are under care of West
Guidance Health Clinic(probably any treatment center) and call them to say you feel suicidal they will show up at your door with the police and haul you away for 5 days.

Many vets would like to use marijuana to ease their discomfort. But the VA says they will stop their treatment if they find out.

War IS hell,and many of these folks are coming back damaged. I feel for them and their family.









is


Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: That is Gunnery Sergeant to you

To @Thats Gunnery Seargent To You (no your misspelling and lack of proper punctuation did not go unnoticed)

I took that oath too there cupcake, but can you tell me in which war the Constitution was challenged or in what war did our (this Nation's) Constitutional rights get threatened?

No there cupcake, you honored the tenants of the Constitution when you obeyed the rest of your oath, "I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice" - but you NEVER fought a war to protect ANY American's freedoms, nor fought to "protect and defend" the Constitution...PERIOD, end of lesson!


Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: @Thats Gunnery Seargent To You

When I enlisted/volunteered I swore and oath to Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States Of America. I'm positive that the 2nd Amendment is in the Contitution. But I would have Expected a Gunnery Seargent in the United States Marine Corps to have known that.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: That is Gunnery Sergeant to you

@ Don Page

Since the Civil War, no war has been fought to protect any Bill of Rights Freedoms for any American. I hate the attitude of pompous service members such as yourself that think that their fellow citizens owe them something for their service. Or that because "they didn't serve" they have no grasp of the "crap I went through".

Stop with the poor pitiful me crap and move on with your life. It ain't your service that made you a poor pitiful person, it is YOU that did that.

Retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant with three combat tours.


Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Gus Patrick

@ To Look to Cause, I Hear You To Gus Patrick, Look Harder

"On Youtube right now, there is a gentleman named David Andrew Christenson who is calling for the assassination of President Obama in his videos. He isn't hiding this -- its right in the title of several of his videos. He also calls for the assassination of lots of other people, too -- senators, former mayor Ray Nagin, private company CEOs. He claims that all these people know that the U.S. military used bio-weapons against New Orleans during Katrina, resulting in something called the "Katrina Virus" being released and killing lots of people"

"A New Orleans man accused of sending threatening e-mails to an FBI agent was arrested Tuesday and booked with two counts of cyberstalking, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court records show.
David Christenson Jr., 53, allegedly sent FBI agent Steve Rayes two bizarre e-mails within a week of each other after Christenson ran into Rayes and his young son while walking in the Warehouse District March 4, according to a police report. Rayes interviewed Christenson last month during an investigation into "inappropriate" e-mails Christenson reportedly sent to various judges and their employees, the police report said"

You mean this credible source?


Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Don Page

Reply to "Coming Home Sucks"
A previous reply made the comment that he didn't feel that you had fought for any of ( his / her?) personal freedoms. This person also comments on the reasons that you enlisted. Don't you just love people that have never seen a day of military service, let alone combat, and think they know all about it. If people like you and I didn't volunteer people like this know it all would be drafted and you could hear them whine from here to hell and back. We can't fix stupid. I went "RA" in 1960 and was sent to nam as an Advisor and a flying crew chief on the B model Huey. The short version of it is we were told we were never there, so you know it was a black opps mission. I volunteered because I felt I owed something to my country. I personally feel that every citizan should spend some time in service to our country. Even if they empty bed pans for the wounded they would have the chance to see the real cost of freedom.... up close ( As it should be)
But what ever you do Don't ever term a (Thank You For Your Service) as a hollow comment. Some of these people could have lost sons or daughters in Vietnam. They could have a history that would make your story sound like a vacation trip to Asia. Thank them for careing and mean it...
All gave some....Some gave all.


Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: Holy Moly

@L s - Revelation, yes, it's all starting to happen just the way it was predicted over 2000 years ago.

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Rev

To those who have fought\worked you did so because it was your duty. Perhaps in the beginning adventure, patriotism, God and country were paramount but once there we became more than that. We became family. Never abandon your duty, see to our brothers and sisters if they can or will not see to themselves.

Less importantly:
It is said Hawks are compelled to fight previous wars. Stuck in the past these birds are unable to see current realities. This same avian blindness also lessens the sight of Doves. Comment sections make for great eye charts and exactly what is so wrong with Canada?


Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ Blunt Truth

You're blaming the messenger for an insightful and informative article -- including the illustration. The "Tragic Truths" sidebar clearly states, "Veterans are more likely than the general population to use a gun to commit suicide." Protecting these poor souls who deserve society's help is one more good reason to close the loopholes on background checks.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: They want Vet's guns

There have been leaks of VA paying bonuses for VA psychologists that are successful in taking away vets gun rights for psych reasons. I am sympathetic to the vets plight and PTSD, etc.. but watch out a phone call or an psych assessment could leave you with no firearms rights.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: @Coming home sucks

Sorry to hear about your pain. However, 99 times out of 10, you and your fellow soldiers enlisted for both the job and the adventure. The operative word here, is enlisted. I personally do not feel that you fought for any of my personal freedoms. Saying that you fought for our 2nd Amendment rights tells much. And to add your health care 'decision' as left to the Government, yes, you get socialized health insurance that none of us mere civilians have. Quit crying about that. You obviously are a Republican who can't get over the fact that your team lost in 2012. Idolizing the military is a lost cause. Time to move on.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: Wimper Fi

If we'd learn to mind our own business and not feel the need to act as the world's policeman, we'd have less veterans to concern ourselves with... Didn't we learn anything from 9/11??

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

That Iraq money could have gone a long way toward helping vets.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: To Look to Cause, I Hear You To Gus Patrick, Look Harder

Look to Cause is reporting truths that many do not know, including military and former military. Look to whistleblower former USAF Capt. David Andrew Christenson (many YouTube videos) who is trying to wake people up the fact that the military is pumped full of vaccinations that contain biowarfare viruses, including 'suicide' viruses that were designed to be used on the 'enemy' in war. During Hurricane Katrina, many biowarefare labs were destroyed, with contents being circulated to the public. He has been persecuted for blowing the lid on it, and he knows many (including high level brass) that have died trying to educate the public on these matters. What is most interesting, is that it is not only combat veterans who are committing suicide in unprecedented rates, it's also non-combat, and their family members. Do yourself and others a favor, and look him up. He also has been interviewed a number of times (also YouTube). It's a serious problem that begs serious attention and compassionate care.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: L s

There will be wars and rumors of wars!
We, as those who see loved ones go to and return from these wars, need to be there to help and encourage them in their readjustment to the society they went to defend.
GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!
THANK YOU FOR DEFENDING AMERICA!!


Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: Coming Home Sucks

As a combat veteran I have to say the hardest thing is coming home to an ungrateful nation. Which I have experienced ever since I returned home from combat. I watch folks go to great lengths to honor "local" heros who protect property. Not to discredit those individuals but had I died in combat my wife would have only recieved a one time death benefit and been told to remove herself and my children from post housing. I struggle everyday with being a civilian and alot of times wish I had never come home. I am disgusted by what my country has become and what we have let our government do to us. I fought for freedom not for a government that tells me what healthcare I have to have. I fought for the right for our citizens to bear arms and be able to protect themselves. I fought and watched my friends die for you folks so I could come home and watch you destroy the very thing I fought for. I hear hollow thank you for your service comments all the time. The only place I feel at home is when I'm with other Soldiers or Marines. The pain I feel inside cannot be explained but I never contemplate suicide. I just ruck up and drive on.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: John Citizen

We have too many of our "vets" homeless and in financial need, especially the ones who fought in Vietnam, why?


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