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VA’s Suicide Hot Line Begins Operations

July 30, 2007
http://www1.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=1363 

Nicholson: “Help a Phone Call Away”

WASHINGTON – To ensure veterans with emotional crises have
round-the-clock access to trained professionals, the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun operation of a national suicide
prevention hot line for veterans.

“Veterans need to know these VA professionals are literally a phone
call away,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “All
service members who experience the stresses of combat can have wounds
on their minds as well as their bodies. Veterans should see mental
health services as another benefit they have earned, which the men
and women of VA are honored to provide.”

The toll-free hot line number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). VA’s hot
line will be staffed by mental health professionals in Canandaigua,
N.Y. They will take toll-free calls from across the country and work
closely with local VA mental health providers to help callers.

To operate the national hot line, VA is partnering with the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS).

“The hot line will put veterans in touch – any time of the day or
night, any day of the week, from anywhere in the country – with
trained, caring professionals who can help,” added Nicholson. “This
is another example of the VA’s commitment to provide world-class
health care for our nation’s veterans, especially combat veterans
newly returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The suicide hot line is among several enhancements to mental health
care that Nicholson has announced this year. In mid July, the
Department’s top mental health professionals convened in the
Washington, D.C., area to review the services provided to veterans of
the Global War on Terror.

VA is the largest provider of mental health care in the nation. This
year, the Department will spent about $3 billion for mental health.
More than 9,000 mental health professionals, backed up by primary
care physicians and other health professionals in every VA medical
center and outpatient clinic, provide mental health care to about 1
million veterans each year.