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Compassionate intervention needed for veterans, USM's Bernacchio and Reagan wrote in Portland Press Herald

Caring and compassionate individuals can lessen the tragic trend of veteran suicide, Associate Professor Charles Bernacchio wrote in the Portland Press Herald.

The opinion column — co-written by Army Veteran and USM student Tiffany Reagan — gave readers a few helpful tips for talking with veterans who may wish to harm themselves.

They asked people to ask questions, validate the veteran’s experience by talking about it nonjudgmentally, reassuring him/her that help is available, encourage treatment and expedite help.

“Suicide, the 10th leading cause of death among all Americans, is taking the lives of our nation’s veterans at a growing rate,” Bernacchio and Reagan wrote. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to improving the health and well-being of veterans by addressing suicidal behaviors. It’s important to recognize that there are things all of us can do to help those at risk of suicide.”

The rate of veteran suicide is about twice that of non-veterans, they wrote.

Here are a few of the many available resources:

• The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255).
• Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741.
• Maine Crisis Hotline: 888-568-1112.
• Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-TALK (8255), press 1.
• Veterans Crisis Line online chat: veteranscrisisline.net.
• Veterans Crisis Line text service: Text to 838255.
• Veterans Count: 828-0754 or vetscount.org/maine.
• Lifeline for Vets: 888-777-4443 or nvf.org.