COMMUNICATING:

     Like I mentioned before, talking about suicide is not an easy thing to do. For the Veteran, talking about what they’re going through is also no easy task. We tend to bottle things up and work on it in our minds, constantly analyzing, and asking ourselves, “what’s wrong with me?”. Just remember, you don’t have to wait until you see signs that something is wrong to ask your Veteran if they’re okay. I mean don’t hound them until they get agitated, but simply ask. This lets them know that at least you care. Not every moment of their battle is a definite life or death situation, sometimes their struggles may come in and weigh heavy on their mind, but it's manageable. What I mean by that is, they may seem distant, or quiet, that's them sorting everything out. Now this doesn't mean just ignore them, let them know you notice their change and that you are there for them. So, if your Veteran does open up to you with their troubles, please, just listen. That’s all they want at that moment. Try not to cut them off, or input your own story. Just let them get it all out. Believe it or not, finally putting it out there is a huge load off their mind. It is what’s called Active Listening. Try to stay away from using phrases like, “I know what you’re going through”, or “it’s all in the past”, in other words, don’t try to “fix them”. Just be supportive by being there to listen, and let them know they can confide in you whenever they need to. If your Veteran isn’t quite ready to talk, but you know something is wrong, just let them know that you are willing to listen, be sincere, not nagging, but persistent, and when they’re ready to talk, they know they can come to you. If your Veteran does tell you they are contemplating suicide, First, DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE, and second ,call for help, such as the suicide hot line, or 911(depending on the severity). Make sure that they don’t actually have the means to act upon their thoughts. Stay with them and get them to talk. Remember to be an Active Listener. Let them know you understand they’re having trouble copping, remind them of reasons to stay alive and get help. Maybe talk about things like kids if they have any, their parents, or their faith. If they’re willing, pray with them and remind them that God has a purpose for them. The main thing is to make sure they know they have purpose, they are loved, and needed. It’s also important to follow up with your Veteran. Offer to accompany them to counseling, or go by and see if they want to go for a walk, or just hang out. Having someone they know they can depend on is huge.

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