The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

VA launches suicide-prevention chat room

Today, the VA launched its new chat room to assist veterans who may be thinking of committing suicide. Military.com reported on the new chat room this morning.

Veterans and their loved ones may now seek council 24 hours a day, seven days awake digitally through the live chat room. Veterans can remain anonymous while speaking in the chat room. Should counselors feel that the veteran is at a significant risk, the online counselor will encourage the veteran to call the hotline.

Accoring to Military.com, VA launched a pilot of the online chat room in July and has already produced positive results.

Since VA launched the veterans' National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-823-TALK) in 2007, AMVETS has helped to raise awareness of the free service by posting the hotline information on the AMVETS National Web site, American Veteran Online, and in numerous print materials.

Past National Commanders John C. Hapner and John P. "JP" Brown III both vocally touted the merits of the hotline, something new AMVETS National Commander Duane Miskulin says he will continue. In his year as national commander, Miskulin says his top priority will be addressing the mental health issues many veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been facing--something with which the suicide-prevention hotline plays an integral role.

Since its launch in 2007, VA said that the suicide-prevention hotline has received more than 150,000 calls from veterans and concerned loved ones, helping refer at-risk veterans to proper counseling and possibly preventing thousands of suicides.

If you are a veteran thinking about taking your own life, or if you think a loved one is at risk, call 1-800-823-TALK (8255) and press "1" for veterans.

(Image: Screengrab of the veterans' page for the National Suicide-Prevention Lifeline. The link to the new chat room is located at the bottom right.)

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