NewsVoice for Veterans


'Don't Wait. Reach Out' campaign available to prevent veteran suicides

Veteran suicide prevention
Posted at 3:29 PM, Sep 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-08 16:56:38-04

BALTIMORE — Veterans, they sacrifice their lives for our freedoms, but many face a real struggle when they return home.

September is suicide prevention month and according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are at higher risk for suicide than the general population.

When's the last time you asked for help? It's a question the Department of Veterans Affairs is posing in their campaign to end veteran suicide called, "Don't Wait. Reach Out."

"Veterans are the first ones to step up and help other veterans and those in their family and friends but when it comes to their own struggles, they're very hesitant to reach out for help,” said Heidi Arthur, Ad Council's Chief Campaign Development Officer.

Veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate. According to the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, in 2020, the suicide rate for veteran's was 57% higher than non-veteran adults.

"These feelings, these experiences, you can feel really alone like you're the only one going through this,” said Dr. Matthew Miller, Department of VA Affairs Executive Director for VA Suicide Prevention.

Miller is a veteran himself and said the PSAs in the campaign are messages delivered by veterans to help other veterans, showing they're not alone.

"A lot of times people will say well I had no idea they were going through that,” said Miller.

That's when he says everyone can be part of the solution by just checking in on a veteran.

"Anything that represents something that is different for that person and you’re stepping back and saying hmm, that's a good time to open the conversation, ask them how they're doing, open the door for talking,” said Miller.

The campaign encourages any veteran finding difficulty in dealing with mental and physical health, finances, housing, or relationships to visit the VA's website here to access resources that are available, addressing struggles before reaching that crisis point.