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VA Suicide Prevention Hotline Flooded with Calls

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Thousands of distressed veterans have flooded the the Veterans Affairs new suicide prevention hotline.

The VA opened the new national call center about a month ago to respond to the growing number of returning troops experiencing mental health problems. The 24 hour call center is located in Canandagua, New York but takes calls from veterans anywhere in the country.

About 4,500 people, including some non-veterans, have called the hotline for help. Of those, 100 were admitted to VA hospitals for treatment. Three of those cases were referred to Buffalo's VA Medical Center.

Michael Finegan is Director of the Center. He says they have long provided emergency mental health care at the facility. But he says the hotline adds another level of critical response.

It's estimated that roughly 50,000 returning veterans suffer from some type of combat related mental health stress.

The hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK.

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