Year: 2023 Source: Washington, DC: U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023). 28 p. SIEC No: 20231972
About This Guide (Brief Version) What will I learn from this guide? The brief version contains the essential information for Veterans to understand how to identify when a fellow Veteran may be at risk for suicide. You will learn the basics of how to talk with someone about making the environment safer to prevent suicide. The guide has three sections: • Understanding Veteran Suicide And Identifying When Another Veteran May Be At Risk • Talking To Another Veteran About Secure Storage • Exercises To Practice Conversations About Secure Storage The full-length version of the guide (link to full length) contains examples and additional information that will better prepare you to have conversations about suicide and secure storage with other Veterans. You are recommended to read the full-length version to get the most information and be best prepared. What do we mean by secure storage when thinking about suicide? Veterans who are at risk for suicide may act within minutes of deciding to hurt themselves. However, the desire to hurt themselves often goes away quickly too. Secure storage increases time and distance between Veterans’ decision to hurt themselves and what they would use to hurt themselves. One example of secure storage is moving a firearm from a bedside table to a safe in the guest room; this increases the time (to unlock the safe) and distance (moving it from the bedroom to the guest room) needed to access the firearm. The increased time and distance give Veterans time to change their mind about their decision to die by suicide. Why is this guide important? Suicide is preventable. Fellow Veterans, family members and friends are important in preventing suicide and saving Veterans’ lives. By asking about suicide, fellow Veterans let Veterans know that they can talk about their thoughts of suicide. Asking about suicide opens the door to a conversation that can make another Veteran feel cared for and give them hope. It can possibly save lives. Listening to them does not mean that all their problems have to be solved. A conversation about secure storage to prevent suicide can be a good start when concerned about a Veteran’s risk for suicide. Encourage the Veteran you are concerned about to talk to a healthcare team member.