Service Member, Veterans and Family Support

Lock and Talk

“We Empower Virginia Communities to Help Prevent Suicide.”

Lock and Talk is part of a statewide comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. IT IS INTENDED TO:

  1. Prevent suicides by limiting access to firearms, medications and other potentially dangerous items during a mental health crisis.
  2. Educate the community about how to recognize and respond to warning signs of suicide.

LOCK: Means safety is the most effective method of preventing suicides from occurring. It is about limiting access to lethal means for a person during a time of crisis.
We promote safe and responsible care of guns, medications, and other means that can harm. Reduce easy access by locking or removing potentially dangerous items including the following:

  • Firearms or other weapons – Lock them securely using a gun safe or trigger or cable lock.
  • Lock and monitor all medications due to the potential for abuse and overdose.
  • Alcohol can increase the risk for a person with thoughts of suicide to act on them. Alcohol impairs judgement and can increase the lethality of a medication overdose.
  • Reduce access to other household items or locations that may pose a threat.

TALK: Talking about the problem of suicide can save lives, reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking behaviors. Talking also helps the healing process for survivors.

Who to Contact?

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Textline: 741-741
Regional Crisis Line (757) 656-7755
Veterans Crisis Line (800) 273-8255, Press 1
For Gun and Med Locks: Contact [email protected]

Contact the Region Five SMVF Coordinators:

Whit McNeill, SMVF Regional Navigator, (757) 617-8795
Nabie Bangs, Peer Support Specialist, (757) 439-1774

What We Provide to the Community
  • Low or no cost suicide awareness and prevention trainings
  • Safety devices including locking medication boxes and gun locks
  • Support material for gun retailers and ranges
  • Lethal means safety guidelines
  • Educational brochures
  • Informational posters
  • Consulting services to schools, workplaces, and organizations to support creating comprehensive suicide prevention policies
The Governor's Challenge

Virginia is 1 of 7 States to join the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Challenge.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through a call to action for state and local communities to implement the VA’s 2018-2028 National Strategy for the Prevention of Veteran Suicide. The aim of the National Strategy is to prevent suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) using a comprehensive public health approach.

The Theme of Virginia Governor’s Challenge is the “3Cs – Care, Connect, and Communicate”:

Care: The provision of accessible and culturally competent behavioral health services.

Connect: Bringing military/veteran specific and community services together; forming systemic

Communicate: Educating Service Members, Veterans, and their Families on resources and educating
community services providers on military culture and suicide prevention best practices.


Virginia has the 8th largest veteran population (approximately 715,000 of our citizens) and 2nd largest active duty population (approximately 131,000 of our citizens) in the Nation.

Of the 19.9 million veterans in the United States, only 30 percent use VA healthcare services; 70% of veterans utilize community settings for health and behavioral healthcare, or go without such care.

Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2017

The VA estimates that 17 veterans die by suicide every day (2017); 11 were not connected with the VA for healthcare prior to their deaths.

From 2003 to 2017, more than 3,250 veterans or service members died by suicide in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The use of a firearm is the lethal means in most veteran suicide deaths with 72% dying by firearm compared to approximately 50% for civilians.

The Gun Shop Project

The Gun Shop Project is a partnership with Lock and Talk Virginia, local Community Services Boards, and local Gun Retailers and Ranges that addresses Suicide Prevention and brings attention to gun safety.

Through posters, brochures, handouts, and training opportunities, it helps retailers and consumers recognize the signs of distress in a suicidal individual. It also provides contact information for attaining proper security measures like locks for guns and dangerous medicines and even storage away from the person in distress providing time and distance from the lethal means during time of distress.

Download the Lock and Talk Poster

Regional Crisis Line (757) 656-7755
Veterans Crisis Line (800) 273-8255, Press 1

For Gun and Med Locks,
Contact [email protected]

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