Preventing Veteran Suicide


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Spring 2016 Issue

Preventing Veteran Suicide


suicide prevention


Coaching Into Care (CIC) Director Steven Sayers, Ph.D., and Andreea Crauciuc, LCSW, Coach, talked with VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald about CIC at the VA Conference on “Preventing Veteran Suicide – A Call to Action” in Washington, DC, on February 2, 2016. Coaching Into Care was presented as an innovative program that offers skills to family members to reach out to Veterans who are struggling before their situation becomes a mental health crisis.


The conference featured many notable speakers, including Senator Elizabeth Dole and suicide expert Dr. Thomas Joiner. Dr. Howard and Jean Somers, parents of Sgt. Daniel Somers who tragically took his own life, spoke of their struggles in trying to support their son when he became troubled. Secretary McDonald and Dr. Howard Shulkin, VA Under Secretary for Health, also discussed the partnerships VA has forged for the goal of suicide prevention among our military Veterans.


If you have immediate concerns about suicide, please contact the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 and Press 1.


If you are a family member concerned about a Veteran showing signs of depression or combat stress, please call Coaching Into Care at (888) 823-7458 Monday through Friday 8am to 8pm Eastern. 


CIC participates in prevention by supporting and educating family members, tailoring resources and referrals with the hope that we can head off crises and major mental health issues before they happen.


press release

VA Announces Additional Steps to Reduce Veteran Suicide

03/08/2016 03:35 PM EST


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced new steps it is taking to reduce Veteran suicide. The steps follow a February 2 Summit, 'Preventing Veteran Suicide - A Call to Action,' that brought together stakeholders and thought leaders to discuss current research, approaches and best practices to address this important subject.


VA Caregiver Support Line Celebrates 5 Years!


The Caregiver Support Line has been providing support to Caregivers for five years!   Over 220,000 callers have reached out to the CSL since it’s opening in February 2011.


Staffed by licensed social workers, the Support Line is available to provide supportive counseling, education on topics related to caregiving, and help to connect Caregivers to local supports and services to assist them in their caregiving role, including a referral to a local Caregiver Support Coordinator located at every VA medical center nationwide.   To further support Caregivers, the Caregiver Support Line also facilitates telephone education presentations several times each month for Caregivers, with a focus on self-care.


Are you caring for a Veteran loved one? Call us today at 1-855-260-3274 to learn more about ways VA may be able support you in your caregiving journey!

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The following is based on a real case that illustrates the work CIC does. All identifying information has been changed.


Don called about his 80-year-old father, a Korean War Veteran with multiple medical problems who hadn't been to the VA in years.  Don was overwhelmed with caregiving since his father recently came to live with him and his family.  The stress of his father's needs, refusal to follow doctor's orders, anger and forgetfulness were taking its toll. 


The call responder who took the initial call helped Don prioritize needs and break down the many tasks that needed to be done into smaller chunks. The responder also educated him about VA programs and services that may help. The first step was to enroll the Veteran in VA health care.  With the call responder's help, Don was able to have that conversation with his father and to find the best way for them to enroll, which turned out to be through their local outpatient clinic.  Don was then able to set up an initial appointment with a primary care provider.


The next step was to work with Don to maximize success of making it to the appointment.  His father had a tendency to back out and refuse to go at the last minute.  At the appointment, Don's father was the center of attention at the clinic and felt positive about the care he was receiving.  At that point, the call responder referred him to the VA's Caregiver Support program to help him access more tools to be a better caregiver and feel more supported.


After just a couple months, Coaching Into Care was able to assist Don in problem-solving the steps he needed to take to get more support in place for himself and his father.


When a Veteran you know needs help, please call Coaching Into Care at (888) 823-7458 Monday through Friday 8am to 8pm Eastern.

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Coaching Tips

Gun Safety 

  • Store guns and ammunition separately in a lockbox. This reduces unintentional firearm deaths among youths by 80%.
  • Store guns unloaded and locked.
  • Store ammunition separately.
  • Secure firearms especially in times of emotional stress, when someone is impaired by drugs or alcohol, or when someone is feeling depressed and hopeless.
  • Purchase gun locks, lockboxes or safes where you purchase your firearms. 
  • Check with your VA's Suicide Prevention Coordinator (SPC) for free gun safety locks.  Find your local SPC here:
  • If you are concerned about a Veteran or Service Member, help is a phone call, click or text away:

               phone   click   text


April is MST Awareness Month


More information available here:


Veterans who have experienced MST share their stories of recovery


CIC would like to thank and recognize colleagues who collaborated with us to promote or arrange care for our families and their Veterans:

  • Stephen Bliss, Program Manager, SUDTP, Louisville VA Medical Center

  • Phay A. Lloyd, RN, OEF/OIF Program Manager, VA Montana Health Care System

  • Kim Sapolis Lacey, LCSW, Veterans Justice Outreach specialist, Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center
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