National Suicide Prevention Week

National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) is September 4th to 10th this year – Its purpose is to educate and inform the public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. It also aims to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance. We in Dillon can observe NSPW by helping to raise awareness, educating ourselves about suicide, and looking out for others who may be suffering from poor mental health and who do not reach out for help for fear of being judged or misunderstood. People dealing with mental health issues want to feel heard and understood.
Among the Veteran community, the number of Veterans committing suicide is 50% higher than those who did not serve in the military. We Vets have been exposed to some crazy stuff and we mostly only feel comfortable talking about it with those who have been there. We have laughed at things many would not understand and bonded together as Vets over good times and bad. Many of us Veterans have invisible injuries and are dealing with emotional stress. In Dillon County, Coroner Donnie Grimsley said that over the past year there were 2 suicides in the county, and neither was a Veteran. Coroner Grimsley acknowledged that he does recall 2 earlier Veteran suicides in Dillon County, and both were younger Veterans plus there were others over the years. Our message at the VFW to Veterans experiencing thoughts of suicide or are facing a mental health crisis is that you are not alone. Your fellow Veterans understand and want to help, and we want you to know that help is available. The VFW has teamed up with nationwide organizations to combat the epidemic of Veteran Suicide and the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is one of the organizations our VFW Post supports that helps Veterans manage PTSD, TBI, and other invisible wounds of war – Army Afghanistan War combat veteran and Dillon VFW member Chris Norris is our Post liaison with WWP, and Chris is available to help any Veteran at 843.250.5964 voice/text.
I take this opportunity to also mention the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) that provides compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a military loved one – TAPS honors our heroes by caring for those they loved and left behind and by providing emotional support and camaraderie for military survivors. Our VFW Post financially supports the TAPS program in South Carolina because we see the survivors of suicide as its victims deserving of our support during a time of great sadness in their lives.
This year the new 24/7 Dial 988 toll free number to reach the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline went into effect – Veterans, and persons concerned about the mental health of a Veteran, can Dial 988 or they can chat at or text 838255 for help. Veterans and persons concerned about a Veteran calling 988 should press 1 to go directly to help for Veterans.
NSPW is upon us, and the week provides us in Dillon the opportunity to think about how we can help someone in a mental health crisis. We can listen, we can express caring, and we can encourage him or her to get help. And now armed with the tool to Dial 988, we can more easily call and ask how we can help this person.
We at the Dillon VFW thank you for caring about our Dillon Veterans. And thank you for your past and continued support for Veterans and their families. Working together as a community, we can help save lives by knowing how to get help for someone going through a mental health crisis.
John Harlow,
Commander, VFW Post 6091
Hwy. 9 East
Dillon, SC

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