Suicide is a national, public health issue that affects all Americans, including Veterans, their families and their friends. Earlier this year, VA brought together the work of PREVENTS and VA Suicide Prevention in the shared implementation of the VA National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide. This National Strategy is a public health approach combining community prevention and clinical intervention strategies to reach all Veterans.
Combining PREVENTS Roadmap recommendations that focus on national public health campaigns and lethal means safety, VA launched a Lethal Means Safety public health campaign in September 2021 during Suicide Prevention Month, with a specific focus on suicide prevention and safe firearm storage. This campaign has had tremendous success – public service announcements have been broadcast nationally reaching millions and several NASCAR racers placed KeepItSecure.net on their race cars in two major races in September!
Increasing time and space between the thought and the trigger saves lives
Firearms are the most common lethal means used by Veterans who die by suicide. In 2019, approximately 70% of Veteran suicide deaths were due to a self-inflicted firearm injury. Importantly, firearm sales continue to rise with significant sales increase in 2020 compared to 2019. Additionally, large surveys found that approximately 1/3 of Veterans store their firearms loaded and unlocked.
Increasing the time and space between someone in a suicidal crisis and a firearm (lethal means) can reduce the risk of suicide and save lives. While many Veterans own firearms and feel very comfortable with them, there is a disconnect between access to a gun in the home and increased risk of harm.
To learn more about how securing your firearms can prevent suicide, visit KeepItSecure.net.
VA is committed to saving Veteran lives
It’s important that Veterans know they’re not alone and that support is available. To learn more about lethal means safety, including how to talk to a Veteran or where to get a free gun lock, visit KeepItSecure.net.
If you are a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, connect with our caring, qualified responders for confidential help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 and select 1, or text 838255. You can also access additional resources at VeteransCrisisLine.net.
Suicide prevention coordinators (SPCs), specifically trained licensed mental health providers, are also available at all VA medical centers across the country. Find a local SPC here.
If you are a Veteran or a Caregiver, VA is committed to connecting you with the mental health and wellness services and support you need. VA has a variety of mental health resources, information, treatment options and more at mentalhealth.va.gov.