Alabama Dept. of Veterans Affairs pushing suicide prevention awareness

Veterans Suicide Awareness
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 7:03 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2022 at 11:01 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and colleges and universities across the state are displaying 152 flags in honor of the 152 Alabama veterans who lost their lives to suicide in 2020.

The statewide campaign is called Operation We Remember. If anything, it’s meant to start a conversation surrounding veterans suicide prevention and how we can help our friends and family.

“A lot of times, the student veterans are forgotten about,” said Brandon Miller, the public information manager for ADVA.

That’s why both the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and the Alabama Department of Mental Health are partnering with the Students Veterans Association on Operation We Remember.

“When you look at the statistics, a substantial grouping of veterans suicide is ages 55+, but the second group is 32 and under,” said Miller. “College is a very stressful time of life, trying to establish yourself and decide right then what you want to do in the future. Even if you’re not in college, late teens, early 20s -- it’s just tough getting your footing. Once you add the veteran component to it and transitioning out of the armed services, that can come with a whole list of extra challenges.”

Those extra challenges could be things like depression, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation.

Nine different colleges and universities are displaying 152 American flags in honor of the 152 Alabama veterans who lost their lives by suicide in 2020. Those include the University of Alabama, Auburn University, 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 had the highest total of veterans suicides in the state of Alabama since at least 2014. During that year, there were 97 suicide deaths and at least 100 every year following.

Now is the time to learn how to help those struggling.

“A big part of assisting with suicide prevention is establishing that trust and making sure someone knows they can talk to you about anything they’re going through, and also knowing the resources to help this person if they do express that’s something they need,” said Miller.

The website was created to help veterans along with their friends and family find resources and warning signs.

If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts call 988. People are waiting right now to talk and help. If you’re a veteran, dial 988 then press one.


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