Breaking the stigma; veterans suicide prevention training educates community on warning signs, mental health

Published: Jul. 31, 2019 at 4:07 PM CDT
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Officials say every 11 minutes someone commits suicide and the numbers are higher among the veteran community, which is why community leaders hosted a training to spread knowledge that could save a life.

Wednesday morning Congressman Brett Guthrie and officials with the Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Suicide Prevention Team hosted a veterans suicide prevention training in Glasgow.

The purpose of the training is to shed light on veteran's mental health and provide an understanding of the warning signs of suicide.

Officials say some of the more immediate signs include talking about suicide or writing about suicide, especially on social media.

Other signs might be less noticeable, like feeling a sense of hopelessness.

“And any kind of sudden changes in mood, it could be going from happy to very sad or depressed or it could be the opposite in fact it could be a sudden uplift in someone’s mood when someone’s been previously depressed," said Lesley Murray, Suicide Prevention Coordinator.

They say veterans have several risk factors for suicide including multiple deployments, exposure to extreme stress, and service-related injuries.

"Veterans are at a higher risk for suicide. They make up 18 percent of all deaths by suicide, but a much smaller percentage of that than the general population," said Carrie Brensike, Suicide Prevention Case Manager.

Members of law enforcement, non-profits, and healthcare professionals were among those in attendance.

“People get into bad situations because of depression and PTSD and so the police may have them and they’ll say, ‘I just might as well end it all’ or ‘I just need to end it all’ and once they hear that or detect that, not even hear it, but detect it, how do they act," said Congressman Brett Guthrie. "The attitude of the military is trying to change to say, 'Okay let us know, let us know what is happening' you know, Congress is trying to push the military to do that as well."

Officials say the most important thing is for the community to recognize the warning signs and to know the resources to get help.

Any veteran or family member needing help can call 1-800-273-8255 and dial 1 to reach the veterans crisis line.