September 17, 2013

Photo courtesy of Beatrice Thompson
Beatrice Thompson wishes now that she would have known to encourage her once outgoing son to reach out for help when he grew so quiet, even a little withdrawn.

“I never would have thought of looking for something like this,” Thompson said.

Thompson is a Sprint employee who is joining her company during Suicide Prevention Month this September in encouraging others to learn about the support available for military veterans and their family members through The Veterans Crisis Line.

She is one of more than 800 active members in our company’s veteran-focused Employee Resource Group, VETS (Veterans and Employees helping others Through Sprint).

Her son Joseph had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard. In 2011, he took his life.

Thompson, who works in a Sprint retail store in Albuquerque, N.M., said she since has learned a lot about the signs of risk someone may show before he or she considers harming themselves.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shares that warning signs include:
  • Hopelessness, feeling like there’s no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
  • Feeling like there’s no reason to live
  • Rage or anger
  • Engaging in risky activities without thinking
  • Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
When a family member or friend sees changes in behavior, they should know that many resources are available, Thompson said.

“Support them 100 percent,” Thompson said. “If you see a change in personality, help them find someone to talk to.”

The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that Veterans, members of their family and friends can use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Trained professionals are available at the Veterans Crisis Line —many of them Veterans themselves—to listen and provide free, confidential support.

Since launching in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 892,000 calls and made more than 30,000 life-saving rescues.

Reassuring veterans in need that it is OK to get help is so important, Thompson said. When family members do this, they are showing them how much they matter.

“I want to prevent them from experiencing the pain I have felt,” Thompson said. “It’s not just me. There are a lot of families out there who are going through this.”
Sprint takes pride in being a military-friendly company and is committed to providing resources and programs to assist veterans, active military personnel and their families. We are pleased to join The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs again during Suicide Prevention Month in raising awareness about support available for military veterans and their family members.