HARLINGEN, Texas — Many Veterans and their families will notice an obvious change has taken place to the elevator doors at the parking garage next to the VA Health Care Center (HCC) at Harlingen, Texas. It is a change that could save a life.
VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VCB) recently installed vinyl wraps bearing the logo and number of the Veterans Crisis Line, followed by the words, “Your actions could save a life.”
“We strategically chose the parking garage doors on the first floor because it is a high traffic area,” said Nicole Theriot, suicide prevention coordinator for the health care system. “The elevator doors are in a great location, which will provide Veterans and their families with an opportunity to see the information as they make their way to and from the building.”
Theriot went further by explaining that the signage will not only serve as an inform visitors, but more importantly serve as life-saving tool should a Veteran or their loved ones find themselves in a crisis. The same goes for VA employees.
The elevator doors were wrapped with their bright red, white, and blue design earlier this September as part of the health care system’s observance of Suicide Prevention Month.
“Quality of care for Veteran’s includes raising awareness around important health topics,” said Homer Martinez III, the acting director for VCB. “By highlighting some of the national health awareness campaigns each month, Veterans can get ideas, information, and resources on a variety of health matters. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and we want to raise awareness on how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from this complex and tragic health issue.”
The drastic change to the doors seems to be working as more and more Veterans have taken notice.
“It is definitely eye-catching,” said Navy and Vietnam War Veteran Richard W. Noyes.
“The information looked familiar to me because I think we have a magnet of it [the Veterans Crisis Line] on our refrigerator at home,” added his wife Mary, who accompanied her husband.
The Noyes both shared that they both agreed that efforts like the change to the elevator doors is a good one because it is literally a sign that the VA is trying to raise awareness about suicide prevention and provide Veterans and their families with another way of getting help when they are most in need. And for Veteran families like the Noyes those are good reasons to make changes.
If someone believes a Veteran in their life may be contemplating suicide, that person is encouraged to call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online. Qualified and compassionate VA responders are on call 24/7/365 to provide guidance on how to connect Veterans with support and help keep them from harm.
Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 3.5 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis nearly 100,000 times, of which more than 39,000 have been lifesaving rescues. The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in more than 413,000 chats.
In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support, and since then has responded to nearly 98,000 texts.
For more information about the Veterans Crisis Line and suicide prevention, refer to the links below.
Veterans Crisis Line (official website)
Suicide Prevention (vets.gov)