Whether you are a veteran yourself, or a spouse, sibling, parent, child, or friend of a veteran, being able to recognize when you or your loved one is in crisis is vital. Friends and family often notice that a veteran may need help before even the veteran does, and making sure that you know what to do is important to the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.
One of the most important aspects to helping a veteran in crisis is being able to recognize warning signs and behaviors that could indicate they are at risk for harming themselves.
The following are warning signs outlined by the Veteran’s Crisis Line:
- Appearing sad, depressed, anxious, or agitated most of the time
- Neglecting personal hygiene and physical appearance
- Expressing feelings of failure, guilt, shame, or feeling “trapped”
- Feeling that life is not worth living or not having a sense of purpose in life, feeling hopeless
- Avoiding friends, family, and social circles
- Increased sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, loss of interest, etc.
- Engaging in risky behavior or acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences on one’s actions
- Engaging in violent behavior such as fighting, punching walls, and bouts of uncontrollable anger
- Declining school and work performance
- Attempting to gain access to pills or firearms, or other weapons or means of harming oneself
- Giving away meaningful possessions
- Creating a will or other means of putting affairs in order
Who To Contact If A Veteran Is In Crisis
If a veteran is actively trying to hurt themselves or someone else: Contact 911 immediately so local law enforcement can intervene – it is what they are trained to do and it is everyone’s best interest to seek immediate professional help.
If you are noticing signs of crisis, contact Veteran Crisis Line: This organization connects veterans and loved ones of veterans in crisis with qualified responders. These responders are caring members of the Department of Veteran Affairs, and are uniquely trained to assist veterans in crisis. This is a confidential program who can be reached by phone toll-free at 1-800-273-8255, online here, or by sending a text message to 838255. If you or a veteran you know is experiencing any of the warning signs listed above, do not hesitate to contact this service.
If your loved one could support moving forward: Sometimes you can see a veteran slipping into crisis, or know that they need support from other veterans. In this case, contact Peer Support Center to find a veteran peer support group near you. These groups allow veterans to talk to people who share their experiences and can relate to what they are going through. If this sounds like it could benefit you or a veteran you know, contact us today.