Veteran suicide is a serious issue, whether the veteran in question has just returned from active duty, or has been out of the field for decades. Fortunately, help is available, in the form of the A.C.E. Suicide Intervention Training Program developed by the U.S. Army.
“A” means ask
To begin the intervention, ask the veteran if they’re having suicidal thoughts. Be calm, but direct. Don’t beat around the bush: come right out and gently ask if they have a plan to end things.
“C” means care
Caring for your veteran means being a stable force during this difficult time. Remove any object or means the person might use to harm themselves. Do not leave them alone. Be a judgment-free listener; this means you don’t shame them if they’re thinking about suicide. Do more listening than talking.
“E” means escort
The final step is to escort the veteran to where they can get the help they need. Most of the time, this will mean taking them (or getting transportation for them) to see mental health professionals. Call 911 or the Military Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255). Stay with them until the appropriate help can be procured.