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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center


Lower Suicide Rates for Veterans Receiving VA Care

1-800-273-8255, Press 1

One call can be a first step toward help: call 1-800-273-8255, and press option 1 for Veterans. Confidential chat is also available at or by text to 838255.

By Erin Curran, Public Affairs Specialist
Monday, August 31, 2015

September is national suicide prevention month-a dedicated time aimed at educating clinicians, healthcare staff and the general public about prevention and warning signs. One small act can make a difference in the life of a Veteran or service member in crisis.

A recent study published by the website PsychiatryOnline revealed that the risk for suicide is lower among men and women Veterans who receive VA healthcare. The study utilized data from the 23 states that collect information on Veteran suicide. The study concluded that suicide rates continue to rise, however, while both male and female Veterans have higher rates of suicide than non-Veterans, rates for both female and male Veterans in VHA care are decreasing while Veterans not receiving VHA care are increasing.

"Since this study has been published, one of the areas we're focusing on in VHA, and here at the medical center, is female Veteran suicide prevention because those rates are increasing more rapidly," said Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Suicide Prevention Coordinator Dr. Mark De Santis. "We are attending events specifically targeted at women to education female Veterans on suicide prevention and behaviors."

The Charleston VAMC Suicide Prevention Program provides educational talks, materials and training out in the community to spread information on how to recognize suicidal behaviors in Veterans.

"We visit with local colleges and universities, Veteran service organizations, community mental health agencies, and set up information booths at local events," said De Santis. "We also educate internally at the medical center by holding training sessions for medical residents, fellows and other clinical staff."

Upcoming Events During Suicide Prevention Month, All are Invited to Attend:

  • Sept. 5:
    Mental Health & Suicide Awareness Expo, 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    Marion Square, Downtown Charleston

  • Sept. 7-11:
    Suicide Prevention Table, each day 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    Medical Center Lobby, 109 Bee Street, Charleston, SC 29401
    VA Police will be giving out gun locks.

  • Oct. 2:
    Showing HBO Film, "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1", 11:30 a.m.
    Medical Center Main Auditorium, 109 Bee Street, Charleston, SC 29401



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