Suicide warning signs and a crisis hotline

Sue and her Seeing Eye dog KismetJust like me, Sue Martin uses a Seeing Eye dog to get around safely. Sue’s blindness is not the result of some eye disease or genetic condition, though. It’s the result of a suicide attempt.

Sue works for The United States Department of Veterans Affairs as a management analyst now, and though I’ve never met her face-to-face, I know her virtually—she shares her assistive technology know-how online and is a huge help whenever my speech synthesizer stumps me.

May is Mental Health Month, and before the month is over I thought I’d share a guest post the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Health Information asked her to write outlining ways Veterans Affairs is helping make people more aware of suicide warning signs and risk. She opens the post explaining that when she was 26 years old, she was so depressed that she thought she had no other option than a loaded gun. “There was an explosion and, in an instant, my world went dark,” she writes. “I didn’t die, but the failed attempt left me blind.”

Thirty years of rehab, therapy, and support from friends and family have brought Sue to a point where she is willing to share her story in hopes it might help others who believe life is not worth living. In her guest blog post, she describes how the Veterans Crisis Line is helping: Veterans or anyone concerned about a veteran may call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net or text 838255 to receive support.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 650,000 calls and made more than 23,000 life-saving rescues. In 2009, the Veterans Crisis Line added the anonymous chat service, which has helped more than 65,000 people.

Today Sue is happily married and describes her work at Veteran’s Affairs as “fast-paced and exciting.” Instead of facing each day with dread the way she did all those years ago, she says she greets each day in anticipation of what she might discover. She is deservedly proud of what she’s made of her life, and extremely grateful to the people who helped her along the way. “I didn’t do it in a vacuum,” she says. “The important thing, if you feel your life is not worth living, is to talk about it and get help.”

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