by The Press and Standard | September 28, 2018 5:00 pm
Last Updated: September 26, 2018 at 9:33 am
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is working hard to meet the needs of our veterans. Preventing veterans suicide is a top priority for the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense.
In 2015, the total suicide deaths stood at 6,115 nationwide. The highest rate totaled 2,310 for veterans between the ages of 55–74 and 1,241 for ages 75 and older. South Carolina reported a total of 116 deaths.
Studies show that there are several risk factors that can contribute to a high rate of suicide deaths among veterans and service members. Those risks include veterans who’ve experienced a traumatic event, personal problems with relationships, difficulty with transitioning from the military to civilian life, substance abuse and financial hardships.
The warning signs are not always apparent. Several signs include communicating suicidal thought verbally or in writing; seeking access to lethal means such as firearms or medications; and demonstrating preparatory behaviors such as putting affairs in order.
Family members are often aware of the veteran’s mental health difficulties and want to play a positive role in getting help. On average, 20 veterans die by suicide each day. Of those, 14 do not seek health care services from the VA. One source for treatment is through Family and Couples Therapy at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston.
The Couples and Family Therapy Clinic offers a variety of treatment options to best meet the couple’s or family’s need. These options include Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy and Behavioral Parent Training. Help is also available for couples dealing with substance use disorders or families learning to cope with traumatic brain injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and other mental health conditions.
Six to twelve sessions are available in-person, through Tele-Mental Health at a VA clinic or through the Home Based Tele-Mental Health. The Couples and Family Therapy Clinic, in conjunction with VA Chaplain Service, also offers marriage enrichment seminars and retreats throughout the year.
For more information on Family and Couples Therapy, call (888) 878-6884, Ext. 5395.
If you need immediate assistance, please call the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800 273-8255 and press 1 or send a text to 838255. You may also go online and visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/support/be-there/support.
The Ralph H. Johnson, VAMC also has a Veterans Suicide Prevention coordinator, Mark DeSantis, to assist veterans and provide outreach services.
Contact the Colleton County Veterans Affairs Office, 219 S. Lemacks St., or call 843 549-1412.
(Janet D. Smith, Veterans Affairs Officer)