Several months ago, a VA Inspector General report generated national headlines when it was revealed that veterans seeking help through the agency’s suicide hotline were being sent to voicemail. The VA pledged to fix the problem and immediately diverted resources and appointed new staff to ensure that veterans could always get the help that they needed. Yet today we hear a story suggesting that the VA is still having trouble managing the hotline.

In Washington State, Jim Cusumano found himself in a dark place. The Vietnam veteran who suffers from PTSD and severe chronic pain had reached a point where the pain was too much to bear. He held a gun in his hands as he placed a call to a friend. Not knowing how to handle the situation, Cusumano’s friend called the VA suicide hotline, only to find it nonoperational. Eventually, the friend went to Cusumano’s house and took the gun from his hands, and Cusumano was taken to a local hospital for treatment. The statistic often thrown-around is that 22 veterans end their own lives each day in the United States. Its a heartbreaking number, and thanks to the quick-thinking of a friend, Cusumano did not become another statistic. You can watch the full story above.

Despite this story, we believe that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline remains an excellent resource. If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide, we encourage you reach out for help by calling (800) 273-8255. You can also chat online by visiting their website. If you prefer, you can always visit the nearest medical facility, police station, or simply call 911. Please remember: you are not alone.

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