Veteran suicide rates worsen

Veteran Suicide Rates Worsen

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(ABC 6 News) – Suicide was the second-leading cause of death for veterans under the age of 45 in 2021. Goodhue County hosted a Veteran Affairs Suicide Prevention Training on Wednesday in Red Wing.

Just last year, the VA healthcare system for both the Minneapolis and Rochester area reported more than 1,500 outpatient care visits, but fewer than 400 veterans accessed COMPACT Act benefits.

According to recent numbers, veterans are one and a half time more likely to die by suicide, when compared to civilian citizens.

But that doesn’t have to be the case; anyone can lend a helping hand to those who need it most.

“There’s not a well-known national campaign against suicide, so just getting awareness out that it’s okay to talk about,” said Andrea Perry, Outreach Coordinator for the Twin Cities VA Medical Center. “That just because you’re struggling with something negative in your life, doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of it, or that it is shameful.”

During their training event Wednesday, experts from the VA trained people who work with veterans. They taught them suicide prevention techniques, through a national program called ‘SAVE‘ which is designed to help veterans in crisis.

“Suicide is so tragic, and it is so awful, but we have to be able to talk about it, we have to be able to help people who have those feelings. I think as part of our human condition, many of us are familiar with struggles,” said Perry.

And those struggles can be especially tough on those who have gone to war.

“When we were in Iraq, we lost 3 guys to combat. And I stopped counting at 9 of the number of veterans who committed suicide since we’ve been back,” said veteran and Goodhue County Veteran Service Officer, Justin Kent. “So every veteran has been touched by another veteran’s suicide.”

“It’s tough because of just how many there are, it’s tough because we’re tough on each other. You have this veteran culture of being masculine, tough and not needing help; so it’s. . . tough,” said Kent.

He goes on to say, “having that fraternity, brotherhood; family to fall back on and mutual support’s, is really what helped me out, and most of the other veterans I know.”

It can be difficult to hear the heartbreaking stories of those who give their all, to protect those who can’t protect themselves. But lending a helping hand, can be as simple, as just listening.