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In Wake Of Startling Suicide Numbers, San Diego VA Gives Tips On Warning Signs

Home Post reported recently that 22 San Diego-area veterans committed suicide within the last year. At least 126 vets in San Diego attempted suicide, according to the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System Suicide Prevention Program.

In response, KPBS reporter Neiko Will spoke with the folks at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System's mental health department. They told Will that 32 new staff members came on board this summer to process veterans' casework more quickly - and hopefully reduce the kind of stress that adds to suicidal thoughts.

VA suicide prevention coordinator Dawn Miller said there are several suicide warning signs, including:

  • Talking about death or dying.
  • Participating in self destructive behaviors.
  • Feeling of hopelessness.
  • Mood swings.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Agitation.
  • Rage or anger
  • Risky or impulsive behavior.
  • Increase in drug and/or alcohol use.
  • Withdrawal from family and friends.

Miller told Will the San Diego VA has identified more than 100 veterans who are currently at high risk for suicide at their facility:

“It’s the being ambivalent about whether you want to live or die which is really the painful time. It’s almost, kind of, a relief once you’ve decided, 'OK, I’m going to go ahead and end my life.' You’ve crossed that threshold. So it’s really when they’re at that ambivalent stage that we try to intervene as much as we possibly can."