The seventh annual Suicide Stand Down will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple.
The free event is open to the public and will be in the Teague Hospital (Building 204), near the Valet Parking entrance
Veteran suicide is an issue the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System continues to focus on with programs and initiatives to make suicide prevention everyone’s business, especially during Suicide Prevention Month, according to a news release.
The Stand Down event offers veterans, their families and friends a chance to learn about suicide prevention, community resources and how to be there to help those at-risk combat isolation and seek help.
The event will feature free demonstrations and information regarding travel, fishing, camping, music, gardening and a variety of other activities for veterans and their families. It will also offer information about healthy lifestyle skills, crisis management tools, and suicide prevention.
“We are not only guided by the statistics, but also the veterans we see each and every day in Central Texas,” Michael L. Kiefer, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, said in the release. “This year, we continue our commitment to find the 14 veterans who are not signed up with VA for their health care before they take their own lives. It’s up to each of us to find those who need support — a simple phone call, a visit, or encouraging a veteran to sign up for VA health care.”
On Saturday, Sept. 14, the health care system is collaborating with the Backyard BBQ, Bar and Grill in Waco and the Waco VA Regional Office to host a Suicide Prevention Event featuring classic cars, live music, informational booths, and Department of Veterans Affairs claims assistance on site. The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Backyard BBQ located at 511 S. Eighth Street in Waco.
In August 2016, VA released a national suicide data report, Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans, 2001–2014. The report was the most comprehensive analysis of veteran suicide rates in the United States, examining more than 55 million records from 1979 to 2014. The data indicated:
• An average of 20 veterans and service members died from suicide each day; six of the 20 were users of VA health services in 2013 or 2014.
• Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults, while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population.
• Approximately 67 percent of all veteran deaths from suicide were the result of firearm injuries.
Central Texas Veterans Health Care System offers many services for area veterans of all eras, including resources for homeless veterans, mental health counseling and special programs for women veterans and veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.
TO GET HELP
Important VA resources include the Veteran Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255, Press 1; online chat at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net, and texting to 838255.