AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - It’s quick, can catch you off guard and impacts more than 45,000 Americans. Our local veterans hospital is working to prevent suicide among veterans.

Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center designated September as suicide prevention month. Health experts there believe it’s best to limit easy access to lethal devices during a mental health crisis.

Thursday they gave away gun locks to veterans so they can secure their weapons and create a delay when destructive thoughts happen. It’s part of their #BeThere campaign that invites the community, colleagues and friends of veterans to show support for people going through difficult times.

“If they really are in distress, take the key for the cable lock, put it in a baggie, fill it with water and put it in the freezer. And then that way it’s in a block of ice. And so if someone is feeling suicidal and is bound and determined to get to their firearm, they now have to wait for that key to thaw," advised Charlie Norwood VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator Lisa Gerardot.

The VA says there’s help available for veterans experiencing suicidal thoughts. Here are ways you can #BeThere:

- Reach out to the Veterans in your life to show them you care. Send a check-in text, cook them dinner, or simply ask, “How are you?”

- Educate yourself on the warning signs of suicide, found on the Veterans Crisis Line website.

- Watch the free S.A.V.E. training video to equip yourself to respond with care and compassion if someone you know indicates they are having thoughts of suicide.

- Check out VA’s Social Media Safety Toolkit to learn how to recognize and respond to social media posts that may indicate emotional distress, feelings of crisis or thoughts of suicide.

- Contact VA’s Coaching Into Care program if you are worried about a Veteran loved one. A licensed psychologist or social worker will provide guidance on motivating your loved one to seek support.

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