BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and colleges and universities across the state display 152 flags honoring the 152 Alabama veterans who lost their lives to suicide in 2020 .
The statewide campaign is called Operation We Remember. Rather, it aims to start a conversation about preventing suicide among veterans and how we can help our friends and family.
“Often, veteran students are overlooked,” said Brandon Miller, public information manager for ADVA.
That’s why the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and the Alabama Department of Mental Health are partnering with the Student Veterans Association in Operation We Remember.
“When you look at the statistics, a significant group of veteran suicides are 55 and older, but the second group are 32 and younger,” Miller said. “College is a very stressful time in life, trying to settle in and immediately decide what you want to do in the future. Even if you’re not in college, in your late teens, early twenties, it’s just plain hard to get a foothold. Once you add the veteran component to it and leave the armed forces, it can come with a whole list of additional challenges.
These additional challenges could be things like depression, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation.
Nine different colleges and universities display 152 American flags in honor of the 152 Alabama veterans who lost their lives to suicide in 2020. These include the University of Alabama, University of ‘Auburn, Troy University, Jacksonville State University, University of North Alabama, University of Montevallo, Shelton State Community College, Lawson State Community College, and Gadsden State Community College.
Miller says 2020 saw the highest number of veteran suicides in the state of Alabama since at least 2014. During that year, there were 97 suicide deaths and at least 100 every year after. .
Now is the time to learn how to help those who struggle.
“A big part of helping with suicide prevention is building that trust and making sure someone knows they can talk to you about whatever they’re going through and also know the resources to help that person. if she expresses that it’s something she needs,” Meunier said.
The website https://www.vetsforhope.com/ was created to help veterans and their friends and family find resources and warning signs.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, call 988. People are waiting right now to talk and help you. If you are a veteran, dial 988 then press one.
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