It’s time that we need to amplify our voices to ensure that veterans and their families have access to necessary mental health care. We must continue to raise awareness of suicide prevention and prevention resources.
Suicide is a national health crisis in the U.S., with veterans having a higher-than-average rate. Veterans can suffer from traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress, as well as other issues such as medical conditions, unemployment,housing and financial concerns and more.
We have heard about the 22 veteran’s lives lost each day. However, according to the National Veterans Foundation, the number of veteran suicides is more likely 24-25 or more a day, translating to over 9,000 former service members each year who are lost to suicide. The rate of active-duty suicides has been increasing over the last five years. It is important to note that 71% of Veteran suicides are by a firearm. It is vital that we also provide a focus on substance abuse.
What is one way you can actively help with prevention? The Senate recently passed a resolution designating Nov. 12, 2023 as National Warrior Call Day. It is a call to action for the public and those that served, to reach out and connect with other service members and Veterans, to connect and provide support. You can learn more and sign up online to help at warriorcall.org.
Other ways to help are by spreading the word about resources, prevention and becoming involved in community training about interventions and learning about suicide reduction tools. Hold community resource fairs, speak to different groups, provide gun lock distribution and education on substance abuse and prevention, and increase our knowledge on suicide prevention. I believe that if we all work together, we can make a difference.
Remember, you are not alone. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, if you are thinking about hurting yourself or others or if you know a veteran who’s considering this, please get help right away. Prevention is key. Confidential and supportive help is available.
- Call 988 and Press 1
- Chat online at 988lifeline.org/chat
- Chat online at: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net [veteranscrisisline.net]
- Text 838255
- Hearing loss, call TTY: 1-800-799-4889 24 hours a day, both in English and Spanish
- Other Veteran Resources:
- Speak to another Veteran: 1-888-777-4443
- VA Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Stop Soldier Suicide: 1-800-273-8255 Press 1
- National Warrior Call Day, warriorcall.org
- National Veterans Foundation, nvf.org
Dr. Annette Cannon is the Jefferson County Coroner.