Hotline Saves Veterans' Lives

The National Veterans Suicide Hotline just concluded its first year of operation. More than fifty-thousand veterans used the service. V.A. officials say that counselors have rescued at least 1,200 people from the brink of suicide. Laurie Johnson reports.
Veterans Affairs set up the suicide hotline last year. It's a national service for veterans, who then are referred to local services for follow-up and counseling.

Lori Coonan is the suicide prevention coordinator at the DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She says she gets three to five calls a week from vets.

"What we have come to understand is that in general the rate of suicide is going to be higher for veterans than civilians. And so it's very important for us to try to intervene as early as possible when veterans are experiencing any type of emotional crisis to try to get them the help that they need before it becomes a major crisis, or before it translates into suicide behavior."

Coonan says not every veteran who calls the hotline is acutely suicidal. Many may be suffering from depression or have occasional thoughts of suicide. And some calls come from family members or friends who are concerned about a loved one.

The Veterans suicide hotline number is 800-273-8255. Click here for the hotline information online link.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...