Letters to the Editor

How you can help prevent suicides

Any suicide is tragic, and recent data suggesting that 20 military veterans die each day from suicide is heartbreaking. However, there is evidence that we can all make a difference by engaging with our veteran neighbors and helping them connect with the services they earned.

The data is clear — veterans who actively engage in services provided by the VA are less likely to die by suicide than those who are not. But even then, one veteran suicide is too many.

The Miami VA Healthcare System stands by to serve those who have served our country. With clinics from Key West to Deerfield Beach, we have dedicated staff ready to assist any veteran in crisis. Another important resource for veterans is the crisis line (1-800-273-8255, press 1) where they can get free confidential support around the clock, even if they’re not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA health care.

Recently, a partnership was announced between the VA and the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs to expand the Florida veterans support line (1-844-MyFLVet), and place resource staff and peer care coordinators at local nonprofits throughout Florida who answer calls from the line.

What can you do to help? Add the veterans crisis line and Florida veterans support line to your mobile phone contacts. Share the numbers. Be there for veterans and active-duty service members who may be in crisis. Listen to them and help them connect with the VA and other important community resources.

The VA alone cannot stop all suicides. That is precisely why we work hard to educate family members, friends, community partners and others about how they can make the difference for a veteran in crisis. Be the difference, and be there for our veterans!

David VanMeter,

interim director,

Miami VA Healthcare System