About 20 vets commit suicide daily: Dayton VA to sign pledge to combat

Dayton VA Medical Center officials are calling on veterans in need to sign up for mental health care services to prevent suicides.

VA officials at the facility were set to sign a suicide prevention pledge Thursday to commit the medical center to series of actions to reduce suicide among veterans.

Every day about 20 veterans in the United States commit suicide, according to the VA. Of those six receive VA health care and three receive mental health services, according to the VA.

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Multiple deployments, military sexual trauma, and stress may contribute to some veterans thoughts of suicide, said Eleanor Bola, Dayton VA acting suicide prevention coordinator.

Bystanders should take talk of suicide seriously, and not be afraid to ask veterans in a mental health crisis if they are thinking about it, she said. Help can be avialable at a hospital mergency room or through a crisis line. Veterans should know underlying symptoms can be treated sucessfully, she added.

“If you can help the person overcome that immediate crisis … you’ve gone a long way,” she said.

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Among other things, the Dayton VA pledged Thursday to set up a “buddy system” for veterans, expand predictive modeling during appointments to identify veterans at risk, and require all employees complete suicide prevention training.

The medical center also would include a veterans’ crisis line on all emails and distribute it to employees, increase the number of veterans and health care providers using Telemental Health Services, and partner with veterans and community groups on the prevention initiative.

The Veterans Crisis Line phone number is 800-273-8255 or dialing the Dayton VA at 937-268-6511, and then pressing 7. Additional help is available at www.veteranscrisisline.net.

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