VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VCB)
VCB Recognizes Sept. as Suicide Prevention Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Press Release No.: 20190916-001
September 16, 2019
Harlingen VA Recognizes September as Suicide Prevention Month
#BeThere Campaign Urges Our Community to Support Veterans
HARLINGEN, Texas — In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VCB) is bringing awareness to its #BeThere campaign by encouraging community leaders, colleagues, and Veterans’ families and friends to help prevent suicide by showing support for those who may be going through a difficult time.
Suicide is a complex public health issue that affects communities nationwide, with more than 45,000 Americans, including more than 6,000 Veterans, dying by suicide every year. But suicide is preventable. VA is using a community-driven approach to prevent suicide and finding innovative ways to deliver support and care to all 20 million U.S. Veterans whenever and wherever they need it.
“All of us are inter-connected in many ways and have an impact on the health and wellbeing of Veterans,” said Dr. Jennifer Wood, the acting deputy chief of staff for VCB.
“VCB is working hard to end Veteran suicide, but we know that only about a third of Veterans come to VA for health care,” added Dr. Jina Jensen, the acting chief of staff of mental health at VCB. “That’s why we need everyone in the community to get involved. This September, and all year, I encourage everyone to take a moment to be there for Veterans in need. One act of thoughtfulness can make a big difference and may even save a life.”
A person does not need special training to prevent suicide. Everyone can play a role by learning to recognize warning signs, showing compassion and care to Veterans in need, and offering your support. Here are some actions anyone can take to Be There:
- Reach out to the Veterans in your life to show them you care. Send a check-in text, cook them dinner, or simply ask, “How are you?”
- Educate yourself on the warning signs of suicide, found on the Veterans Crisis Line website.
- Watch the free S.A.V.E. training video to equip yourself to respond with care and compassion if someone you know indicates they are having thoughts of suicide.
Check out VA’s Social Media Safety Toolkit to learn how to recognize and respond to social media posts that may indicate emotional distress, feelings of crisis or thoughts of suicide.
- Contact VA’s Coaching Into Care program if you are worried about a Veteran loved one. A licensed psychologist or social worker will provide guidance on motivating your loved one to seek support.
These simple actions along with other strategically important information concerning suicide prevention and awareness were shared amongst the approximately 80 individuals, Veterans and family members who recently attended the 2019 VCB Mental Health Summit. The event took place on September 13, 2019. The Mental Health Summit took place in the auditorium of another one of our great community partners, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).
“The VCB Mental Health Summit is an outstanding way to bring people together from various organizations within our local communities,” said Homer Martinez III, the director for VCB.
“This event allows us to form partnerships in order to make resources and services available to Veterans—services and resources that can be used to save Veterans lives.”
Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) such as the American Legion, the Marine Corps League, Disable American Veterans (DAV) joined representatives from other non-profits such as Heroes on the Water, and Endeavors. They were among the more than one dozen organizations that participated in the event. Members of the Harlingen Police Department, Texas Parks and Wild Life and deputies from both Willacy and Cameron Counties Sheriff’s Departments were also in attendance and shared how they can and do contribute to the health and welfare of our local Veteran community and Suicide Prevention and Awareness.
The mental health summit is the first of its kind held by VCB, a similar event focusing on the VA Whole Health Concept is scheduled to take place on Saturday September 21, 2019 in Laredo and in November in Corpus Christi. These summits provide an abundant amount of important health and welfare information to be shared between the VA, our community partners, and our Veterans and families.
VCB in partnership with the Mid Rio Grande Border Area Health Education Center (MRGB AHEC) is scheduled to host a Veterans Whole Health Summit & Benefits Fair. VCB’s second Whole Health Summit will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The free public event will take place at the UT Health San Antonio Regional Campus-Laredo D.D. Hachar Building – Auditorium located at 1937 East Bustamante Street Laredo, Texas 78041. Veteran and their family members are encouraged to attend in order to learn about the VA’s Whole Health System initiative to promote overall health and well-being. Guests will be able to learn about the benefits of chiropractic care, acupuncture, meditation, guided imagery, yoga, chair yoga, Tai Chi, improved sleep, and pain management. Guests may also receive educational materials and gain more knowledge about the many benefits available to them as Veterans by visiting the information tables staffed by VA staff members and representatives from other VSOs and community partners.
Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
For more information or questions, call Jamie Goodpaster, VCB public affairs officer at 956-291-9340.