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Success Stories

Asking the Right Questions

In July 2015, I had the opportunity to take a Mental Health First Aid course at WestCare Nevada.  Little did I know that just a few days later I would be using the information and techniques I had learned in the class in a real life situation.

The situation involved a young 24-year-old Army combat veteran suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and a myriad of other issues. As this young man’s mentor, I spoke or visited with him at least three times per week.  Most times the conversation was pretty light and we talked about his future and what he would like to do.

One phone call was very different from the others. I called and asked how he was doing. He replied that he wasn’t doing very well. I asked him what was going on, and he said he had not slept in five days. I was surprised and asked why he hadn’t been sleeping. He told me the voices in his head were so loud that he couldn’t sleep.  At first the voices were tell him to hurt himself, and now the voices were telling him to kill himself.

At this point I started asking questions. I asked him several times, “How can I help you?” and told him to please “let me help you.” He replied that he didn’t think anything could help him. I asked him directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?” He said he probably would be better off. Then I asked, “What would you like to do?” and “What do you think you need to do?” There was a long pause before he said, “One of the voices in my head is telling to check myself into the psychiatric unit at the VA hospital.”  I repeated what he had said, and he said again that he would like to get some help.  So I said, “Then that’s what we are going to do.”

I called his mother and explained the situation and what the young man wanted to do. I asked that she drop whatever she was doing and get the young man to the hospital. I also asked that she drive as I didn’t think he was in any shape to drive himself.

I got back on the phone with my this young man to let him know that I had called his mother and that she was on her way to take him to the hospital.

Later, the young man called to let me know he arrived at the hospital and was checking himself in. I told him how proud I was of him for getting the help he needed.

I’m happy to report that this young man has been accepted into an in-patient treatment facility where they specialize in Veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI.