The Power of One

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News September 2014

One click, one call, one text — one life. One small act can make a difference in the life of a veteran or service member in crisis.

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Every year, organizations across the country recognize September as Suicide Prevention Month. This year, the Veterans Crisis Line is asking you to think about the power of one and consider the many ways a single act can give veterans access to confidential support and resources.

For veterans going through a difficult time and their loved ones who are concerned about them, a single call, chat or text can be a critical first step. One conversation with a veteran about how he or she is doing can open the door to services and support.

Every person can be someone who makes a difference in a veteran’s life, and connecting with support doesn’t have to be hard.

Besides help from family and friends, veterans and their families can also find assistance with a phone call, online chat or text.

Veterans Crisis Line

The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that veterans and their families and friends can access anytime.

Trained professionals, including people who are veterans themselves, are ready to listen, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Since launching in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 1.1 million calls and made more than 37,000 lifesaving rescues.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) counts on grassroots networks and community organizations to spread the word that support is just a call, click or text away, because one small act can make the difference.

See the Signs

Many veterans may not show any signs of intent to harm themselves before doing so.

However, there are some actions that can be a sign a vet needs help. Veterans in crisis may show behaviors that indicate a risk of harming themselves.

Veterans who are considering suicide often show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and/or hopelessness, such as:

-Appearing sad or depressed most of the time

-Clinical depression: deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating that doesn’t go away or continues to get worse

-Feeling anxious, agitated or unable to sleep

-Neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance

-Withdrawing from friends, family and society, or sleeping all the time

-Losing interest in hobbies, work, school or other activities one used to care about

-Frequent and dramatic mood changes

-Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame

-Feelings of failure or decreased performance

-Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose in life

-Talking about feeling trapped like there is no way out of a situation

-Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems

Their behavior may be dramatically different from their normal behavior, or they may appear to be actively contemplating or preparing for a suicidal act through behaviors such as:

-Performing poorly at work or school

-Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities

-Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights or self-destructive violence; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge

-Looking as though one has a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights

-Giving away prized possessions

-Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends and/or making out a will

-Seeking access to firearms, pills or other means of harming oneself

If you notice these warning signs, tell a veteran about the Veterans Crisis Line, or make the call yourself. There are three quick and easy ways to contact them:

-Phone: 800-273-8255 and press 1


-Text: 838255

Spread the Word

This Suicide Prevention Month, show how the power of one single act can save a life.

Visit the crisis line website to download free Suicide Prevention Month materials, including printable flyers, digital ads to display on a website and content to post on social networks or publish in newsletters. Learn how you and your community can work together to prevent suicide.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. We’re all part of the solution and it starts with one small act.

For more information, visit or call 800-273-8255.

This article was written by a committee at Reingold Associates, the contract agency for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Crisis Line Campaign.


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