U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
VETERANS CRISIS LINE
PUBLIC FACT SHEET
Veterans Crisis Line
VA is strategically rebranding the National Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255).
An important component of this comprehensive effort involves a new name: Veterans Crisis Line, which establishes a unique identity for this critical service.
Research influenced our decision to rebrand the service as a crisis line, changing the emphasis from “suicide” to “crisis” for Veterans and their families to make that critical first call for help.
The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7/365 to provide confidential counseling and referrals for Veterans and their families.
Since its launch, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline has answered more than 390,000 calls and made more than 13,000 life-saving rescues
VA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) continue to work together to ensure all Americans in emotional distress or suicidal crisis have a single confidential number to call for help. They provide a special service for Veterans through the SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans and concerned family members can call the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 800-273-8255 and “pressing 1.”
The rebranding is an integrated national outreach effort to increase awareness and use of the Veterans Crisis Line and confidential online chat service, support and promote broader VA suicide prevention efforts, and promote help-seeking behaviors among Veterans at risk of suicide and other mental health problems.
This effort is the result of extensive research, including consultation with recognized authorities on suicide prevention and social marketing, key internal and external intermediaries who deal with Veterans every day, and Veterans themselves.
The rebranding will emphasize the “Press One” option for Veterans and family members who call the Veterans Crisis Line, ensuring their call is immediately transferred to VA’s call center in Canandaigua, NY, which is staffed with professional responders trained and dedicated to serving Veterans and their families.
New messaging will reinforce the confidentiality of the Veterans Crisis Line for both Veterans and their family members, who may be the first to realize a Veteran is in crisis.
The Veterans Crisis Line’s new look and feel will be incorporated into the campaign’s collateral and promotional items.
VA is developing tools to aid its employees in sharing the Department’s story about the Veterans Crisis Line, including outreach collateral, PSAs and educational videos, talking points, potential social media content, online banner ads for VA Medical Center sites, electronic posters, and story banks for the media.
Suicide prevention outreach efforts need to use carefully tailored and targeted messaging. Unlike outreach for many other health issues which rely on underscoring the prevalence of the problem, outreach for suicide prevention that emphasizes rising suicide rates among Veterans runs the risk of normalizing suicidal behaviors, helping to convince Veterans in crisis that considering suicide is a normal or even expected response to their challenges–and possibly leading to an increase in suicide attempts. Through this effort, VA will provide effective and safe messaging and outreach strategies that focus on affirming Veterans’ strength and resilience and reinforcing help-seeking behavior.
VA understands the success of this program depends on support from internal staff, communities nationwide, and partnerships with groups like Veterans Service Organizations, community-based organizations, and local health care providers that have direct contact with Veterans every day. Many of these groups have participated in the campaign development and will be critical partners in the distribution of our messaging and efforts to build greater awareness for VA’s critical services. We need your support and participation to help ensure all Veterans and their families are aware of the Veterans Crisis Line and the service its trained staff provide.