Veterans’ service agencies schedule suicide prevention training

Agencies aim to build awareness during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Sep 04, 2019

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Nationally, 20 veterans take their own lives every day.

Although the number has slowly decreased from 22 veterans a day, the number of lives lost to veteran suicide is far too high, the Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services said today in a press release. Consequently, during September, Maine veteran service agencies are hosting a Veteran Suicide Prevention ‘Call to Action Month.’

VA Maine Healthcare System, Maine Vet Centers, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine and the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services are addressing the epidemic with a series of trainings throughout the state to better educate veterans, families, and members of the public on prevention and awareness.

Recognizing the need for a community solution, the agencies have scheduled nine suicide safety planning and training sessions in Hallowell, Fairfield, Lewiston, Bangor, Augusta and Biddeford.

They are:

Prevention and Awareness Training, Thursday, Sept. 5, 5 to 7 p.m., Bangor Vet Center, 615 Odlin Road, Bangor. To register, call 947-3391.

Family Crisis Planning, Monday, Sept. 9, 4 to 6 p.m., Lewiston Vet Center, 35 Westminster St., Lewiston. To register, call 783-0068.

My Safety Plan, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 5 to 7 p.m., Bangor Vet Center, 615 Odlin Road, Bangor. To register, call 947-3391.

Mental Health Summit, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Togus Theater, 1 VA Center, Augusta.

Living Works Assist Training, Thursday, Sept. 12, and Friday, Sept. 13, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Lewiston Vet Center, 35 Westminster St., Lewiston. To register, call 783-0068.

Suicide Safety Planning for Veterans, Service Members and their Families, Monday, Sept. 16, 4 to 6 p.m., NAMI, 52 Water St., Hallowell. To register, visit namimaine.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1263453&group=.

Mental Health First Aid for Veterans, Service Members and their Families, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Kennebec Valley Community College, 92 Western Ave., Fairfield. To register, visit namimaine.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1256427&group=.

SafeTALK Training, Friday, Sept. 27, 4 to 8 p.m., Seeds of Hope, 35 South St., Biddeford.

“One major barrier that we hear about time and time again is the lack of understanding on how to talk to a friend or loved one about suicide,” said David Richmond, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services. “Throughout the month of September, we want to educate the community about veteran suicide, what the warning signs are, and how to start the conversation with someone who may be in need.”

In addition to the individual training sessions, the bureau will also be hosting a veteran resource fair at the Maine State House on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Over 30 veteran service organizations have registered to attend and will provide information on the various therapies and benefits they offer our veterans.

Sarah Sherman, director of Strategic Partnerships at the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, said, “The bureau is partnering with like-minded organizations throughout the state of Maine to find alternative therapies and resources that help veterans — outdoor recreation, acupuncture, K9 service dogs, equine therapy, and additional support with education and employment. The importance of looking at non-traditional methods is proving an effective way to better serve the veterans of our state.”

Many veterans do not show a single sign of wanting to cause harm to themselves before dying by suicide. These trainings can help family, friends, neighbors and colleagues learn the signs of someone in need. For a complete list of trainings and events during "Call to Action Month," visit the MBVS website at maine.gov/veterans.

To learn more about available resources for veterans and their families, contact the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services at 430-6035 or visit maine.gov/veterans.

If interested in learning more about suicide prevention, contact VA Maine Healthcare System Suicide Prevention Coordinator Tracy Charette at 623-8411, ext. 5017.

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