September is Suicide Prevention month. It commonly quoted that 20 Veterans take their life each day. Right now, somewhere there is a Veteran – probably several – who are contemplating suicide. In the next week, over 140 Veterans will die by their own hand. It’s a rate 22% higher than non-Veterans, according to the VA. Statistics also tell us that out of this 140:
- 98 will have neither sought nor received treatment from the VA
- 91 will be over the age of 50
- 1 will be a woman- and while that may seem small, female Veterans take their own life at a rate 240% higher than their civilian counterparts.
- 1 will be a Mainer.
It cannot be stated enough that if you are or you know a Veteran who is in crisis, immediately call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or go to VeteransCrisisLine.net. Trust your gut, if you believe that something is or could be wrong, make the call.
Easterseals is not a suicide prevention agency. But since our inception, our care coordinators have intervened in 113 instances where a Veteran was determined to be at high risk of suicide. The tragedy of suicide is not just the loss of life – it is the loss of potential. It is the loss of what these Veterans could have brought to our community and each day we strive to ensure the resources are in place to save number 114.
Even in a Veteran-friendly state like Maine, Veterans in our community still face issues like homelessness, unemployment, and mental disabilites at rates much higher than their civilian peers. General Martin Dempsey said the our service members “do what they do because they sense that they should give something back because of the opportunities that they enjoy in this country.” In my observation, this same commitment to excellence and dedication to mission continues when our service members return home as Veterans. It is when our Veterans lose sight of their purpose where things go awry – and that’s where Easterseals steps in. Our Veterans and their families have given so much, it is up to us as Americans to ensure their sacrifices matter by investing in their future.
The issues facing our Veterans are increasingly complex, but at Easterseals we believe that together, we can work to seek a society in which every Veteran is included and valued for who they are, for what they have given, and most importantly-what they have left to give. Please provide critical support for our life-saving programs at Veterans Count Maine and Easterseals.
Senior Director of Development