Need help? Use voice dial to call Veterans Crisis Line

Jonathan Kaupanger
July 10, 2018 - 4:28 pm

Dreamstime

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Talking to your phone can save your life.  Just say “call the Veterans Crisis Line” into your Apple or Android smartphone and you’ll be connected to help.

Siri and Google Assistant will now dial the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which serves the Veterans Crisis Line, even if the phone number, (800) 273-8255, isn’t saved to your phone.  You do need to press #1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

“If someone is at risk for suicide and at imminent risk, we want to involve the Crisis Line and involve immediate, onsite help,” says Dr. Keita Franklin, VA’s Executive Director for Suicide Prevention.  The Crisis Line dispatches up to 70 saves a day.  To date, more than 3.5 million calls have been received by the Veterans Crisis Line, resulting in almost 93,000 dispatches of emergency services.

This is another step in making mental health care more accessible at VA.  In 2009, the chat feature was added to the Crisis Line.  Since then more than 397,000 requests for chat have been answered.  In 2011 the text service was added and VA has had 92,000 requests for help via text since then.   These are free and confidential services, even if you aren’t enrolled in Veterans Health Administration.

There are three Crisis Line call centers across the country, with the most recent one added last fall.  With this latest addition, VA was able to expand its “press 7” feature.  Pressing #7 on a phone in a VA facility connects you directly to the Veterans Crisis Line.

The telephone isn’t the only way VA helps with suicide prevention.  Each VA medical center has specially trained Suicide Prevention Coordinators who will help coordinate counseling and any other services you might need.  There are over 300 Vet Centers across the country that specialized in helping veterans readjust to life at home after returning from combat zones.  Click here to find the Vet Center or VAMC closest to you.

If you know a veteran who is having trouble, VA has someone to help you find answers, too.  With the Coaching into Care program, family members and friends of veterans can talk to a licensed psychologist or social worker, free of charge.  They are there to assist you in figuring out the best way possible to help the veteran you care about.  You can talk to a VA coach by calling (888) 823-7458.  All calls are private and confidential.

“Suicide is definitely preventable and treatment works,” says Dr. Franklin.  “When we get them into a battle rhythm of care and treatment and then follow on support systems.  They do better.  The thing is making sure we get them into care when they are in that bad place.”

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