In September, the Defense Department is kicking off Suicide Prevention Month with a reminder: Small steps save lives.

Dr. Karen Orvis, director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, said taking simple safety measures and precautions can prevent someone who's distraught or depressed from taking his or her own life.

Three people sitting in chairs with others sitting behind.

Speaking at the 2019 Suicide Prevention Conference sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and DOD, Orvis said the message for the military and veteran community is, "Be there and step up. We can all do meaningful, yet small, steps to help prevent suicide."

Orvis said knowing some key facts about suicide can help family, friends and colleagues form a suicide prevention strategy:

Most military and veteran suicide deaths involve a firearm.

Most nonfatal suicide attempts involve medication.

Suicide can be impulsive, occurring less than 10 minutes from the time someone thinks about it to the time he or she acts on it.

A woman and man stand while other sit around.

Orvis said DOD and the VA are strongly committed to preventing suicides throughout the year, but they can't do it alone. She said everyone in the community has a role to play in suicide prevention. Remember:

Even something as small as offering a shoulder to cry on can be meaningful.

Putting time and distance between the individual and the lethal means can avert a tragedy.

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