PHOENIX — It was an overwhelming time for her.
Her husband was on his third deployment to Afghanistan and she was struggling with the loss of her job and feelings of loneliness. With financial pressures mounting and thoughts of suicide consuming her, this military spouse and mother of two turned to TriWest Healthcare Alliance’s Behavioral Health Crisis Line.
By calling and talking with a clinician familiar with the unique challenges military families face, she received support, information and resources to help her cope with her stresses and refer her to the counseling she needed.
This situation is similar to the thousands of crisis-situation calls that TriWest—the Department of Defense contractor that manages the military’s TRICARE health benefit in 21 western states—receives from military members, retirees, spouses and other family members.
Crisis Line Saves Lives, Receives National Re-Certification
A 24/7 resource for beneficiaries, the Crisis Line is staffed by licensed clinicians who field 2,500 crisis calls out of the more than 18,000 overall calls to the Behavioral Health helpline each month. The help line recently received re-certification from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), a national leader in suicide prevention.
According to AAS, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people ages 15–24 and the 11th leading cause of death overall. In particular, today’s military and their families have seen an alarming amount of suicides related to combat stress, multiple deployments, relationship issues and more.
“This re-certification underscores how seriously we take the issue of suicide prevention at TriWest,” said TriWest President and CEO David J. McIntyre, Jr. “Those who call our Crisis Line can be confident that there are specially trained people at the other end of the line, who follow strict standards of care to get them the help they need.”
In addition, earlier this year, TriWest received an "Allies for Action” award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, honoring the groundbreaking behavioral health and suicide prevention education services offered by the company as part of the TRICARE benefits offered.
These services include the TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP), an anonymous behavioral health assistance option provided online via web chat or Skype, and has distributed more than 250,000 copies of “Getting Home, All The Way Home,” a DVD produced to help military families cope with deployment-related stress. Both are accessible through TriWest’s behavioral health web portal, along with an extensive library of educational information and resources.
National Suicide Prevention Week
Sept. 4–10, 2011, is National Suicide Prevention Week, with Sept. 10 marking World Suicide Prevention Day. The U.S. Army recently reported the number of suicides and potential suicides for July 2012, the highest in 2 ½ years—32 soldiers. The Army isn’t alone. All military branches are concerned about suicide rates among those defending the nation.
As conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, the need to support service members and their families is vital. The American Association of Suicidology states, “Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain that they are experiencing.”