Suicide awareness, a topic worthy of highlight, continued education, DE stigmatization and community investment. A few staggering statistics include the following: according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide (approx. 121 a day), for every completed suicide- 25 attempt. Unfortunately, every 12 minutes a person attempts to end their lives. While this number is a bit controversial, it is reported that veteran suicide lie somewhere between 20-22 a day, accounting for about 17% of the 121 a day I referred to previously. Furthermore, it may be of value to note that compared with similar individuals in the general population, veterans are 8 times more likely to have PTSD and 2-4 times more likely to suffer from major depression. With that said, there’s no disputing the need to shed light on the topic.
Having this knowledge and walking through the day with the realization that 5% of the general population have thoughts of suicide prompts a fire and desire for advocacy and continued awareness. As part of the team here at the Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island we’ve very fortunately had the opportunity through an education and training grant from the Long Island Community Foundation to craft and host various trainings focusing on this very topic. Recently we’ve reached out and opened our doors to the veteran community, our colleagues, veteran family members, friends and local service providers who have a vested interest in supporting our Long Island veterans by way of mental health. Here at VHALI we offered a suicide prevention training -ASIST (Applied Suicide Skills Training). This, a 14 hour, 2 day intensive, interactive and practice dominated course is designed to help individuals recognize risk and learn how to intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Provided the opportunity to sit in on the training I can openly and honestly say that a space inside of me has been etched for the compassionate understanding, non-judgment of, and sincere ability to support an individual through what may seem to be a hopeless time in their lives. I’ve walked away with way more than a certificate and remain confident in my ability to have a conversation in a manner that supports hope and a path to wellness with an individual in crisis. Our hopes here at VHALI are to maintain the ripple in more ways than one!
We plan to continue to welcome experts in the field who can shed light on the topic of suicide and provide us with the wherewith all to support and guide those in need. In addition, this fall we will be offering a more basic understanding of supporting individuals through a Mental Health First Aid Course. Always feel free to give us call here at VHALI, our doors as well as our hearts and minds are always open!
Veterans Crisis Line 1800-273-8255 Press 1 VeteransCrisisLine.net or text 838288 – Confidential Chat
Rhea Spina, Project Coordinator, Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island 516-489-2322 X1260