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Redirected Moments can Save Lives

Approximately 20 veterans a day die by suicide. Twenty of our nation’s warriors each day feel alone and hopeless in a moment in time that they actively decide to take their own life. It’s a tragedy that can be prevented if that moment can have intervention ahead of the crisis. Centerstone recently shared this message live on Facebook, hoping to raise awareness of veteran suicide and to arm followers with the knowledge of how to redirect that moment.

“There’s research that suggests it can be as little as five minutes for someone to have the thought of dying by suicide to when they act,” Jodie Robison, Executive Director of Centerstone’s Military Services said. “Five minutes.  If we can take care of those minutes we can save lives.”

Robison was joined by colleagues Don McCasland, licensed clinical social worker for the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone and Justin Thompson, Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Regional Director, both veterans themselves.

“It is very often a moment of impulsivity,” McCasland said. “So if we can break that cycle, break that moment it’s going to buy that person two seconds to reconsider and think.”

During the online event McCasland, Robison and Thompson shared warning signs of suicidal ideation to include increased anger or aggression, substance abuse, domestic issues, job loss and transition out of military life. They also stressed the importance of firearm safety noting that 70 percent of male veterans and 43 percent of female veterans who died by suicide in 2017 did so through the use of a firearm.

“As part of military culture from day one, firearms are integral components of a veteran’s life and the right to bare them is valued,” McCasland said. “However, the most important thing is ensuring you and the veteran are safe and that lethal means are restricted in some way during this difficult time.”

McCasland suggests reminding a veteran in crisis that any removal of a weapon is not permanent. It can be that a family member or friend holds on to them until the individual receives the help they need or as simple as ensuring a gunlock or safe is used to allow for those moments of hopelessness to subside.

Similarly, asking the tough question, “are you thinking of killing yourself,” may also effectively redirect the moment or prevent it all together.

“If you ask a straight forward, honest question, ‘are you thinking of killing yourself’ that’s not going to make someone do it,” McCasland said. “That’s a myth. Instead, being faced with that question and subsequently thinking of the answer can help someone stop and consider the severity of their thoughts.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts help is available. You can text the Veterans Text Line Veterans Text Line 838255, call the Centerstone Crisis line at 1-866-781-8010, or the Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

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