VA launches new campaign in effort to fight against veteran suic - FOX34 Lubbock

VA launches new campaign in effort to fight against veteran suicide

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

In an effort to fight against the issue of veteran suicide, as data from the Department of Veteran Affairs shows rates have increased by 26 percent over the last decade, the VA launched a new "Be There" campaign for veterans. 

Keita Franklin, the executive director of suicide prevention for the VA, said raising awareness and educating people on this issue is the whole purpose of the campaign.

"We have a Be There campaign that we're trying to roll out across the nation to increase awareness on signs and symptoms of suicide risk, and to make sure that everybody knows that everybody has a role to play when it comes to saving lives," Franklin said. 

According to the VA's new 2016 report, 20 veterans, on average, die by suicide each day.

Franklin said the best chance for a solution is if organizations across the country work together.

"We also recognize we can't do it alone. And we want partners to work with us hand in hand and we want everyday citizens to work with us hand in hand. That's what this campaign is about. It's a call to action to get to know the veterans in your community and show them how much they're valued, show them how much you care about them, and in particular, be there for them when times are rough," Franklin said. 

Franklin said the best thing a person can do to help is to look out for the warning signs of a veteran in need.

"When veterans isolate themselves, when they withdraw, when they feel hopeless or helpless, when they just act in ways that are different from their normal patterns, small, subtle things that change in their everyday appearance. Those are some of the quick warning signs that you need to pay attention to carefully," Franklin said. 

If you see warning signs, take action. Franklin said it could save their life. 

"Be prepared if you see warning signs. Just to directly ask the question: Are you thinking of ending your life? The only way we're going to know how high the risk is if we just ask, directly and to the point. But then be prepared for the answer because they may come back and say that they have had fleeting thoughts. They may say they have a plan, and if they do, you have got to be prepared to move into action," Franklin said. 

Franklin said human interaction is key in this campaign, as she said reaching out and connecting these veterans to groups could make a huge difference. 

She added if anyone is interested in joining or starting the conversation with a veteran in need, the campaign's website has more information. 

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