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El Paso VA says new partnership will improve suicide prevention services for vets

veteran suicide prevention
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EL PASO, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is partnering with OnStar’s emergency services to improve access to suicide prevention resources for veterans.

“Nationally the VA has began a partnership with OnStar to facilitate better suicide prevention efforts and provide around the clock confidential support,” El Paso VA suicide prevention social worker Elisa Barron said.

This partnership will offer veterans in crisis the opportunity to be transferred to around-the-clock, confidential support via the Veterans Crisis Line when they use the emergency services button in an OnStar-equipped vehicle or OnStar guardian smartphone app.

“This service would be to connect the veteran directly to the veteran crisis line, so if the veteran were to connect through to OnStar needing emergency assistance,” Barron said. The crisis line is available 24/7, where a trained responder will answer your call and talk with you.

An average of 20 veterans die by suicide each day. Through this partnership, VA and OnStar, which is owned by General Motors, will collaborate to provide education and training to VA clinicians and OnStar call center staff to facilitate suicide prevention efforts for veterans. Additionally, the VA will provide resources and education to OnStar about military culture and how to determine if a caller is a veteran.

“I think we will help veterans locally because it provides that direct access,” Barron said, adding, “they won’t have to worry about dialing a phone number and they can be automatically connected with a crisis line responder who can then address whatever distress or crisis they may be having at that time.”

Suicide prevention is a top priority and the VA said it has made great strides in veteran suicide prevention, especially in crisis intervention. Partnerships such as this are coordinated by the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Community Engagement.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, social workers urge you to please call the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255. Or you can text: 838255

Support for the deaf, hard of hearing or hard of hearing can be had by calling: 1-800-799-4889.

El Paso / News / Video

KVIA ABC-7

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