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Saving our Veterans from suicide

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MARION, IL (KFVS) -

A recent U.S. Government study on military veterans suicides revealed an alarming rise in the number of veterans who are taking their own lives.

The study showed that a Veteran commits suicide in this country every 65-minutes. And that more than 69% of them are Veterans 50-years-old or older.

"Suicide is a permanent decision to a temporary problem," said Dale Horaz suicide prevention coordinator at the Marion VA Medical Center. " Normally there is a build up of stressors. Those stressors could be anything from financial situations, to losing support from their family or losing friends and or family members. And sometimes we see these Veterans start to isolate."

Which is why the Marion VA Medical Center and the Veterans Administration is reaching out to Veterans to let them know there is hope and help.

"Suicide is not an instantaneous decision, it's an erosion. It's a psychological erosion of a person," said Thomas Kadela, Ph.D. behavioral medicine supervisor at the Marion VA Medical Center. "Everyone deals with trauma differently. But they can also get it from depression. The older Veterans have more medical and physical problems. So they might be depressed when they realize, I have Cancer or I have Prostate Cancer. I don't have anyone to take care or me. Who is going to take care of me when I get older? It just builds up. It's that erosion over time where they just lose hope."

And in order to get ahead of a Veteran getting to that point, the staff at the Marion VA take notice of what a Veteran says about himself throughout his care.

"A Veteran might not tell their permanent care doctor that they're having trouble. But they might tell the nurse in oncology. Or they might tell a behavioral social worker. But they won't tell their psychiatrist," Dr. Kadela said.

But suicides can be prevented.

"The active thoughts are obviously the areas of concern," said Horaz. "The red flags are is somebody has active suicidal thoughts. They may plan it or have intent and way or means in order to complete suicide."

Six years ago the Veterans Administration started it's Veterans Crisis Line, and since it went into action they've been able to save more than 26,000 Veterans.

If you know a Veteran, or if you're a Veteran yourself and need help, you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. Or text them at 838255.

Veterans Crisis Website:  http://veteranscrisisline.net/

 National Suicide Help line Website:  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 VA Suicide Prevention Webpage:  http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/

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