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Mental Health Website Supports Veterans in Pandemic Isolation

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Friday, May 29, 2020   

RICHMOND, Va. - As the new coronavirus pandemic increases depression and anxiety for folks across the nation, a mental health campaign is boosting support for vulnerable military veterans.

The Veterans Administration launched its "Now Is the Time" program to help veterans deal with emotional challenges - not only in May, which has been Mental Health Awareness Month, but throughout the year.

Matthew Miller, director of the VA's Suicide Prevention Program, says the online campaign offers resources and feedback from other veterans with mental health concerns, and encourages families and friends to stay in contact during this time of isolation.

"Suicide survivors have told us, 'Somebody reached out and because they reached out during that time, it helped me hang on just a little while longer,'" says Miller.

He adds the online site will be especially useful in states like Virginia, with high numbers of veterans. Almost 12% of Virginia's population is former military.

The website is 'maketheconnection.net.'

Federal statistics show veterans ages 18 to 34 experience the highest suicide rate, and 70% of veteran suicides are by firearms. Miller says the VA includes education on firearm safety as part of its Suicide Prevention Program.

But more importantly, he notes, veterans' support groups teach that time and space between a person, a firearm and ammunition can make all the difference.

"We know that suicide can be a five to 60 minute window where someone's feeling hopeless," says Miller. "But if there's separation created during that time between them, the firearm and the ammunition, it can be life saving."

In the most recent National Veteran Suicide Prevention report, veterans accounted for almost 14% of all deaths by suicide among U.S. adults, although they make up only about eight percent of the adult population.


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