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By Ken Cruickshank
Tulare County Veterans Service Officer 

Suicide by Veterans


Last updated 7/24/2022 at 6:48pm | View PDF

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seeks to continue efforts to reduce the issue of suicide by veterans. To assist veterans who need someone to talk to, the VA developed the Veterans Crisis Line. You can find more information at

The Veterans Crisis Line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide free, confidential support to veterans, whether they are currently registered with the VA or enrolled in VA health care. If you are a veteran, servicemember, or their loved one, you can call the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255; press 1. You may also send a text message to 838255 to receive support.

Established in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 6.2 million calls and made more than 233,000 lifesaving rescues. Responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are specially trained and experienced in helping veterans of all ages and in a wide range of circumstances, including those coping with mental health issues that were never addressed to recently separated veterans dealing with relationships or transitioning back to civilian life.

Since 2009, when the Crisis Line implemented an anonymous online chat service, they have had more than 739,000 chats; in 2011, they established text messaging and have responded to more than 253,000 texts.

VA’s 2018 National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide (National Strategy) defined a broad vision for implementation of a public health approach to end veteran suicide. Executive Order 13861, signed on March 5, 2019, established a three-year effort known as PREVENTS, which further amplified this unified public health approach. Alongside Suicide Prevention (SP) 2.0 and SP NOW initiatives, PREVENTS is part of the National Strategy operationalized plans organized by the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Under leadership from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), PREVENTS has a key focus to encourage veterans to securely store firearms. Increasing the time and distance between persons who are suicidal and their access to firearms is known to reduce suicide risk. The PREVENTS communications campaign publishes educational materials and resources to encourage secure storage of firearms.

PREVENTS seeks to change the culture surrounding mental health and suicide prevention through enhanced community integration, prioritized research activities, and implementation strategies that emphasize improved overall health and well-being.

The goal of PREVENTS is to prevent veteran suicide. By adopting a holistic public health approach, PREVENTS is acting on the knowledge that suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and that by working together, locally and nationally, we can prevent suicide.

PREVENTS' work is building on the critical successes of suicide prevention pioneers and agencies working with service members and veterans.

If you feel the need for services, please ensure that you reach out to someone who can assist you.

Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3348 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at


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