Veteran's Health Library Menu

Health Encyclopedia

Be Safe

Be Safe: Prevent Self-Harm

What’s Important to Know?

People can experience an emotional or mental health crisis in response to a wide range of situations. A crisis may be triggered by troubles such as problems in personal relationships or loss of a job. A crisis can lead people to consider hurting or even killing themselves (suicide). In general, Veterans are at a higher risk of suicide than civilians.

These warning signs may indicate that someone is in crisis and/or possibly suicidal:

  • Hopelessness, feeling like there’s no way out

  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings

  • Feeling like there is no reason to live

  • Rage or anger

  • Engaging in risky activities without thinking about possible harm

  • Increasing or excessive tobacco, alcohol, or drug abuse

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Expressing feelings of being trapped with no way out

  • Expressing overwhelming guilt or shame

These signs require immediate attention:

  • Thinking about killing yourself

  • Looking for ways to kill yourself

  • Talking about death, dying, or suicide

  • Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, reckless weapon use, etc.

If you or someone else is in a serious crisis and feeling suicidal:

  • Seek immediate help from your health care team or the nearest hospital emergency room

  • Call 911

  • Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, Press 1

  • Contact the Veterans Chat Service at

  • During times of crisis or hopelessness, consider removing firearms from the home or using a gun lock or gun safe to make them less accessible

Want to Know More?

If you want to learn more about how to prevent self-harm, talk with your VA health care team. For more information, go to the VHA Suicide prevention Web site:


Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 11/1/2019
Help improve the VHL. Share your opinions! Click here for brief survey

VHL Web Tour Video - Opens in a pop up window

Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
Disclaimer - Opens 'Disclaimer' in Dialog Window | Help | About Veterans Health Library